The down home truth about Jeff Sessions

Attempts to portray Senator Jeff Sessions as a racist continue to run into this problem — African-Americans who know him well aren’t buying in.

I wrote here about Donald Watkins, a Black attorney who attended law school with Sessions in the early 1970s. Watkins says that his interactions with Sessions back then, and throughout the years since, have convinced him that the Senator is a good man. “Jeff was a conservative then, as he is now, but he was NOT a racist,” Watkins wrote on his Facebook page.

Watkins has expressed regret at not coming forward to defend Sessions 30 year ago, when the racism smear was invoked against the Alabama man in judicial confirmation proceedings. Arlen Spector, who cast the decisive vote against Sessions at that time, also later expressed regret. After getting to know Sessions as a colleague on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Specter called his vote one of the biggest mistakes of his career.

Now Quinton Ross, the leader of the Democratic minority in the Alabama State Senate and an African-American, has praised Jeff Sessions. Ross says he and Sen. Sessions have worked well together and he expects Sessions to enforce the law fairly if he becomes U.S. attorney general.

Ross stated:

I have worked with Sen. Sessions on education policy and securing federal funding for our schools. Additionally, I have spent time with him at the Magic City Classic and at Heritage Barbershop in Montgomery. I know him personally and all of my encounters with him have been for the greater good of Alabama.

Ross added:

We’ve spoken about everything from Civil Rights to race relations and we agree that as Christian men our hearts and minds are focused on doing right by all people. We both acknowledge that there are no perfect men, but we continue to work daily to do the right thing for all people.

The smear campaign against Jeff Sessions isn’t about “racism.” It’s partly about policy disagreements and partly about riling up the Democratic base — in others words, demagoguery.

Many decades ago, the Democrats pulled a similar stunt against Judge Clement Haynsworth, a Nixon nominee for the Supreme Court. Senate Democrats accused Haynsworth, who sat on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, of being a segregationist.

The Senate eventually rejected Haynsworth based mainly on allegations, never proven as far as I know, that he decided cases in which he had a financial interest.

A few years later, I argued a civil rights case before a panel that included Judge Haysworth. He voted against my client — the EEOC. I didn’t like the ruling (2-1 in favor of the defendant-employer), but it was clear enough from the oral argument and the opinion that Haynsworth was no racist.

Nowadays, it’s generally accepted that Judge Haynsworth was a moderate, as indeed he seemed to me despite my disappointment in the outcome of my case.

Haynsworth liked to tell the story of a time during the confirmation fight when he was watching a network television report about his nomination. After a minute or two of hearing about himself, he exclaimed to his wife “THIS MAN WILL NOT DO.”

Relying on smears, the left is arguing that Jeff Sessions “will not do” for Attorney General. But African-Americans who know Sessions well are saying that he will.

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