Diatribes of Jay

This is a blog of essays on public policy. It shuns ideology and applies facts, logic and math to economic, social and political problems. It has a subject-matter index, a list of recent posts, and permalinks at the ends of posts. Comments are moderated and may take time to appear. Note: Profile updated 4/7/12

09 January 2017

Block Jeff Sessions


[For popular recent posts on Russia and its recent hacking of us, click here. In the next four years, what follows may be even more important.]

Block Confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General!

[Following is an open copy of messages I am sending to my two senators. It is self-explanatory. Please feel free to copy or crib from it for the same purpose:]

Dear Senator :

I write to beg you to do everything you can to block or delay the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General of the United States.

I’m a retired professor of law and a long-ago articles editor on the Harvard Law Review. As such, I can foresee, more than most of your constituents, how much damage Sessions would do, if confirmed, to the institutions of law and justice in this country. That is why, of all the ideologues, undeserving rich, and experience-free candidates that Donald Trump has nominated for high positions, Sessions is the only one whose confirmation I will ask you to resist.

For three reasons, Sessions as Attorney General could do incalculable damage to our American way of life. First, he is a racist and extreme authoritarian from one of our most consistently regressive and backward states. The Senate rejected him as a federal judge in 1986 for precisely these reasons, and it should do so again.

Second, Sessions has not changed, but the nation has. He would follow two of the best attorneys general of my 71-year lifetime: Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. Both were and are brilliant, low-key diplomats and consummate professionals, a credit to the law and to their professions as attorneys. Both coincidentally are African-Americans, whose conduct in high office elevated it and gave hope and inspiration to millions of Americans. In particular, Holder’s exhaustive exposé of an overtly racist and oppressive city administration in Ferguson, Missouri—with evidence, not ideology—was a tour de force of lawyering that led to almost immediate change for the better.

There is no basis for believing that such professionalism and action for positive change would continue under Sessions as attorney general. On the contrary, he would introduce ideology, not evidence, as the governing principle of “justice.” Likely he would purge the Department of Justice of many, if not all, of the indefatigable fighters for justice who hold political positions unprotected by our civil-service laws.

Finally, we must consider the worst case. No one knows what Donald Trump will do as the most inexperienced president in our nation’s history. Some things he has promised, such as keeping jobs for skilled workers onshore, rebuilding our infrastructure, and avoiding a second Cold War with Russia, would be positive. Other things, such as building a Wall along our entire southern border, deporting millions of hardworking and law-abiding but undocumented immigrants, interning or excluding peaceful Muslims, and threatening his rival candidate with imprisonment or worse, recall pre-war Germany’s decline into Nazism.

If Trump, as president, turned to the dark side, unchecked by a Congress even more extreme than he, it is not hard to imagine Sessions becoming a Molotov or Beria to Trump’s Stalin, or a Goebbels to his Hitler.

As Americans, we cannot let that happen. So I urge you, beg you, to do all you can to insure that Jeff Sessions—a man who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “justice”—never becomes our chief federal officer charged with preserving it in difficult and troubling times.

Very truly yours,

Jay Dratler, Jr.
Goodyear Professor of Intellectual Property, Emeritus
University of Akron School of Law


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