By Keith Mansur
Oregon Cannabis Connection
Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama (R), Trumps pick to be Attorney General, cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee today with a vote of 11 to 9. The nomination now moves to the Senate floor where he is expected to be approved by the Republican Majority Senate.
Sen. Sessions had met much opposition to his nomination due to his poor record on civil rights issues over his long career as a Federal prosecutor in Alabama, the Alabama Attorney General, and as a United States Senator from Alabama. A fellow U.S. Senator, Corey Booker of New York (D), actually testified against Sen. Sessions in an unprecedented move. Never has a sitting U.S. Senator testified against another Senator’s appointment to a cabinet post. Sen. Booker exposed many truths about Sen. Sessions, and his many votes in the U.S. Senate that document his values.
Booker testimony from C-Span:
Sen. Sessions already has shown a disdain for cannabis, stating recently in a Congressional hearing, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” He has also commented in his past that he believed members of the Ku Klux Klan “were OK until I found out they smoked pot.”
In addition to the accusations of a racist temperament by some former colleagues over the years, Sen. Sessions showed that his allegiance is to his boss, not the law or the citizens he represents. That is the biggest concern I have with Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions of Alabama’s nomination, with regards to cannabis. It is his tendency to do the bidding of the leader he serves, and not the people themselves. In at least one case he disregarded demands of the U.S. Justice Department and went against against recommendations of practically every other legal mind in the nation.
This was exposed in his confirmation hearing January 10th when he responded to Delaware Senator Chris Coons (D) questions regarding the use of the hitching post on male and female prisoners in Alabama. Sen. Sessions sanctioned the practice throughout his term as Alabama Attorney General (1995-97) and long after every other state had stopped and after the Justice department sent memorandums explaining it was torture and unconstitutional. Alabama continued the practice until the U.S. Supreme Court finally concluded in 2002 that Alabama’s use of the hitching post violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition in the constitution on cruel and unusual punishment.
There were at least two disturbing parts to his response to Sen. Coons questions.
First, Sen. Sessions explained that the Alabama Governor wanted to continue the practice of using the hitching post, and he deferred to his judgment, stating, “That was an issue by the governor who campaigned and promised that prisoners should work and he was determined to make that happen.”
He failed to recollect that the torture case – the same one eventually decided by the Supreme Court in 2002 – was filed in 1995, during his first year as the Alabama AG.
Next, Sen. Sessions equated being punished on a hitching post as a type of unproductive “work”.
“I think good employment of a prisoner is a healthy thing. I do not favor, personally this kind of work. I think it should be more productive work…work that can get an individual to develop a discipline the can use when they go on to private life after they leave prison.”
He apparently couldn’t make the moral and ethical judgment the US Supreme Court defined as “clearly” unconstitutional. And, he still refuses to call it torture, otherwise he would be admitting he allowed Alabama to torture its prisoners.
Watch the entire exchange on C-Span here:
Senator Jeff Sessions will do whatever his boss wants, and that should scare the hell out of the marijuana industry across America. Donald Trump is a loose cannon, and he could decide to shut down recreational cannabis at the drop of another executive order. Unfortunately for us, he will have little resistance from his likely next Attorney General, whether the enforcement is constitutional, affordable, or justifiable in any way.
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