As Trump Cabinet Hearings Begin, We Need Tough Questions for Jeff Sessions

Donald Trump has promised a law-and-order administration, and his pick for attorney general is unabashedly a first step toward delivering on that promise. The urgent challenge for members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where two days of hearings on the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama began today, is to decide two things: One, whether Session's zeal to enforce the law will extend to laws he passionately opposed as a senator. And, two, whether he'll have the backbone to challenge the new president should Trump cross constitutional or legal boundaries, as many fear he might. Sessions repeatedly stressed his commitment to reverse the upward spike in violent crime that has occurred in many of America's biggest cities, including Dallas, over the past couple of years. Sessions -- a former federal prosecutor, Alabama attorney general and 20-year Senate veteran --urged Americans to show more respect, and politicians to be more vocal in their support, for law enforcement officers. He chose to say next to nothing about the pain and fear felt by millions of citizens, especially those of color, who fear the police based on the actions of rogue officers who abuse both citizens and the law. This tension — at root, a debate over whether President Barack Obama and his Justice Department have been wise to seek to support both the vast majority of police officers who operate within the law and people who've protested police who don't — was just one example of the extraordinary stakes at play in the committee hearing today. Many Americas are deeply fearful about what may come after Donald Trump is sworn in as president Jan. 20. It will fall to the next attorney general to allay those fears by word and deed. Because Sessions has so vigorously opposed many of the laws that will be critical in doing so -- including hate crime protections for gays and lesbians, gay marriage laws, and abortion rights -- many have questioned whether Sessions is the right choice to be America's top law enforcement official.  Continue reading...

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