January 10, 2017 – New York – In advance of today’s Senate Judiciary
Committee hearing on the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to be U.S.
attorney general, AJC submitted a series of questions to Committee Chairman
Senator Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Senator Diane Feinstein.
AJC, a strictly nonpartisan
organization that does not endorse or oppose the confirmation of particular
nominees, has a special interest in the attorney general position. For more
than a century the attorney general and the Justice Department have played a
key role in many significant legal and policy debates, including such vital AJC
concerns as religious liberty and civil rights.
“As we have in the past, we urge
the Senate Judiciary Committee to exercise its critically important
constitutional duty under the ‘Advice and Consent’ clause of the U.S.
Constitution by closely examining the nominee’s record,” wrote Richard Foltin,
AJC Director of National and Legislative Affairs, and Marc Stern, AJC General
Counsel, in a letter to Grassley and Feinstein. The full letter is available at
The AJC letter urges members of
the Judiciary Committee to probe Sessions on his view of the role of the
Justice Department on a number of critical issues, including:
- Protection of targeted religious communities from
acts of intimidation, harassment, and violence;
to anti-Semitic or racist vitriol
where, due to our nation’s strong protection of freedom of speech, legal
prohibition and prosecution are untenable;
- Detection and deterrence of lone-wolf terrorists,
and discouraging incitements to terrorism on social media, again with due
regard to free speech concerns;
- Intervention in cases under the Religious Land Use
and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), where local authorities have worked
to exclude mosques and other houses of worship, and bringing criminal charges
against those who have attacked such premises.
- Current remedies under the Voting Rights Act given
the U.S Supreme Court decision in Shelby
County v. Holder, as well as support for legislatives steps to ensure that
the Act is restored consistent with that decision;
that the Justice Department will continue to champion civil rights, an
especially important matter given his record on civil rights subsequent to the
Senate’s rejection of his nomination for a federal judgeship in 1986.