Donald Trump wants to make Jeff Sessions the head of the Department of Justice (DOJ). In 1986 when President Reagan wanted to make him a top judge in Alabama, Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King Jr, opposed it, writing a nine-page letter to the Senate:
“Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts. Mr Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”
Here is some of what she said in the letter:
“The Voting Rights Act was, and still is, vitally important to the future of democracy in the United States. I was privileged to join Martin and many others during the Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights in 1965.”
Part of what had come out of that march, besides the Voting Rights Act of 1965, was the Perry County Civic League. They used absentee ballots to effect, something Whites had been doing for years. In 1984 Sessions called it voter fraud and used the power of his office to go after its leadership. He had the FBI show up at the doors of older Blacks who had voted, frightening them out of voting:
“doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods.”
Sessions went after absentee ballots in Black-majority counties, not White ones.
“Free exercise of voting rights is so fundamental to American democracy that we can not tolerate any form of infringement of those rights. Of all the groups who have been disenfranchised in our nation’s history, none has struggled longer nor suffered more in the attempt to win the vote than Black citizens. No group has had access to the ballot box denied so persistently and intently. Over the past century, a broad array of schemes have been used in attempts to block the Black vote.”
These days it is called voter suppression. It is no small matter:
“The exercise of the franchise is an essential means by which our citizens ensure that those who are governing will be responsible. My husband called it the number one civil right. The denial of access to the ballot box ultimately results in the denial of other fundamental rights.”
Which is just what unfolded under Jim Crow.
“If we are going to make our timeless dream of justice through democracy a reality, we must take every possible step to ensure that the spirit and intent of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution is honored.”
The DOJ that Trump wants to put Sessions in charge of is the very government department in charge of upholding the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – putting the fox in charge of the hen house.
– Abagond, 2018.