214 Civil and Human Rights Organizations Express Continued Concern about Sessions Nomination

Categories: Advocacy Letter, Nominations, Voting Rights

Recipient: Senator Charles Grassley

View the PDF of this letter here. 

Dear Chairman Grassley:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 national organizations committed to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, and the 213 undersigned organizations, we write to express our profound concerns about a number of President Trump’s recent executive orders and policy statements and their connection to the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. In his first week in office, President Trump has made extraordinary claims of executive authority, has called for a major investigation into voter fraud, and has outlined numerous policy changes that pose grave dangers to civil liberties and civil rights. Given the reported involvement of Senator Sessions in advising President Trump on some of these matters, we believe you have a profound duty as Chairman and ask that you do everything necessary to ensure that Committee members are fully informed about the role of Senator Sessions in developing these new orders and proposals and his plans to implement and execute them.

It would be hard to overstate the urgency and importance of these recent developments. The Senate cannot meaningfully carry out its constitutional obligation, under Article II of the Constitution, to exercise “advice and consent” on the nomination without Senator Sessions providing the Committee with his views on the president’s actions and proposals since his inauguration.

As you know, in his first hearing, Senator Sessions testified, “I have no belief and do not support the idea that Muslims as a religious group should be denied admission to the United States.” Because one of President Trump’s executive orders excludes refugees and immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, Committee members are entitled to know whether Senator Sessions will be involved in implementing this order and whether he believes it to be consistent with his first claim to the committee.

President Trump has also announced that he intends to seek a “major investigation” into voter fraud during the 2016 presidential election. Study after study has shown that voter fraud is virtually non-existent, and a comprehensive review found only thirty-one incidents out of one billion ballots cast.1 President Trump’s allegations of massive voter fraud, as nonfactual as they are, are already being used as pretext for laws that make it more difficult for people of color, young adults, people with disabilities, and low-income people to vote. If President Trump intends for the Department of Justice to have any role in this probe, it would be unconscionable for this Committee to proceed without determining in far greater detail just what is being alleged and without clarifying how the investigation and any policy responses will not make it more difficult for Americans to vote.

In addition to his Muslim exclusion order and his continued pursuit of voter fraud theories, the president has issued orders or threatened proposals in recent days which:

  • Threaten broad changes to enforcement of immigration laws that will have significant impacts on both immigrants and American citizens across the country.
  • Direct drastic changes to the relationship between the federal government and the states in punishing state and local governments for their treatment of immigrants, including actions which would use state and local governments to carry out federal immigration enforcement.
  • Cut the annual budget of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice by $58 million, which is roughly one-third of its budget, and decreases oversight of troubled police departments.
  • Jeopardize the protections afforded by the Affordable Care Act to persons with disabilities, women, racial minorities, LGBT persons, and lower and middle income Americans.

These actions and proposals are relevant to this Committee not only because they severely threaten civil liberties and civil rights, but also because several media reports have described Senator Sessions—even while waiting for the committee to vote on his nomination—as an influential advisor to the Trump administration on some of these issues. None of these actions had taken place at the time of his first confirmation hearing. The Committee must establish a process for assessing these new developments, Senator Sessions’ role in formulating them, and his level of expected involvement in carrying any of them out. Failure to do so would be a gross dereliction of your duty.

Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, please contact Nancy Zirkin, Executive Vice President of The Leadership Conference, at (202) 263-2880.

 

Sincerely,

 

National Organizations

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

32BJ SEIU

9to5, National Association of Working Women

ACCESS (Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support)

ACIJ

Advocates for Youth

Alianza Americas

Alliance for Citizenship

Alliance For Justice

American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity

American Association for People with Disabilities

American Association of University Women (AAUW)

American Civil Liberties Union

American Constitution Society for Law and Policy

American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

The American Federation of Teachers

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Anti-Defamation League

Arab American Institute

Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta

Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote)

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA)

ASISTA Immigration Assistance

Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations

Bend the Arc Jewish Action

Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation

Brennan Center for Justice

Bus Federation

Campaign Legal Center

Center for American Progress

Center for Community Change Action

Center for Constitutional Rights

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Center for Media Justice

Center for New Community

Center for Reproductive Rights

Center for Responsible Lending

Central Conference of American Rabbis

Climate Hawks Vote

Coalition for Disability Health Equity

CODEPINK for Peace

Colectiva Legal del Pueblo

Common Cause

Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC)

The Constitution Project

Council on American-Islamic Relations

CREDO

Daily Kos

Democracy Initiative

Demos

Detention Watch Network

Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund

Equal Justice Society

Equal Rights Advocates

Equality Now

Fair Elections Legal Network

Faith in Public Life

Family Equality Council

Family Values @ Work

Feminist Majority

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Friends of the Earth

Free Press Action Fund

Global Progressive Hub

Grassroots Leadership

Greenpeace, Inc.

Healthcare Against Human Trafficking in the US

Housing Choice Partners

Human Rights Campaign

Human Rights First

Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project

Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Institute for Policy Studies

Institute for Science and Human Values

International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW)

J Street

Japanese American Citizens League

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Jewish Voice for Peace

Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Just Foreign Policy

Justice Policy Institute

Justice Strategies

Korean American Resource & Cultural Center

Korean Resource Center

Lambda Legal

Laotian American National Alliance

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

League of United Latin American Citizens

Legal Aid at Work

MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund)

MomsRising

MoveOn.org

MPower Change

Mundo Maya Foundation

Muslim Advocates

Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity

NAACP

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

NAKASEC

National Abortion Federation

National Action Network

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

National Association of Human Rights Workers

National Association of Social Workers

National Bar Association

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD)

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs

National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC)

National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)

National Council of Jewish Women

National Council of La Raza (NCLR)

National Domestic Workers Alliance

National Education Association

National Employment Law Project

National Employment Lawyers Association

National Fair Housing Alliance

National Health Law Program

National Hispanic Media Coalition

National Immigration Law Center

National Immigration Project of the NLG

National Iranian American Council for Action

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

National Organization for Women

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Religious Campaign Against Torture

National Urban League

National Women’s Law Center

Natural Resources Defense Council

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

The New American Leaders Project

OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates

OneAmerica

Partnership for Working Families

People For the American Way

People’s Action

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

PolicyLink

Population Connection Action Fund

Positive Women’s Network-USA

ProgressNow

Project South

Project Vote

Public Advocates Inc.

Public Citizen

Public Counsel

Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES)

Salvadoran American National Network (SANN)

Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN)

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS)

Sierra Club

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

South Asian Bar Association

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

Southeast Immigrant Rights Network

Southern Poverty Law Center

Stand Up! for Democracy in DC (Free DC)

Students for a Just and Stable Future

Students Working For Equal Rights

TASH

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

UFW Foundation

UltraViolet

Union for Reform Judaism

United families

United Farm Workers

UnLocal, Inc.

US Women Connect

Voices for Progress

The Voter Participation Center

Voting Rights Forward

Voting Rights Institute

Voto Latino

Washington Defender Association’s Immigration Project

We Count

Win Without War

Women Working Together USA

Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund

Woodhull Freedom Foundation

World Without Genocide at Mitchell Hamline School of Law

YWCA USA

 

State and local organizations

Auburn Theological Seminary

Austin Jewish Voice for Peace

California Employment Lawyers Association

DC Cannabis Coalition

DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence

DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving

FANM/Haitian Women of Miami

Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC)

Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees

Green Party of Taos

Hawaiian Community Assets

The Interfaith Center of New York

The Legal Aid Society of New York

Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition

Palm Beach County Coalition for Immigrant Rights

Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center

Reformed Church of Highland Park

South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice

South Texas Human Rights Center



1. Justin Levitt, “A comprehensive investigation of voter impersonation finds 31 credible incidents out of one billion ballots cast” The Washington Post, August 6, 2014 available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/08/06/a-comprehensive-investigation-of-voter-impersonation-finds-31-credible-incidents-out-of-one-billion-ballots-cast/?utm_term=.b01df0dcdd12.