Much controversy has surrounded President-Elect Donald Trump’s choice for Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Elected in 1997, Sessions has been reelected overwhelmingly in Alabama all times he has run. He has gained the endorsement of several conservative groups as well as the support of many unions. As a man well-worded in the word of the Bible, he often brings such religious beliefs to the Senate with him, being recorded as holding slightly homophobic beliefs and having very strong negative feelings towards marijuana.
While it is easy to focus on the negative aspects of Senator Sessions, it should also be noted that he has achieved many admirable things in his tenure as Senator. He has always held steadfast in his support for the military, always fighting to expand funding. Thanks to him, each military installation in his state has remained open and able to serve their purpose. He has endorsed tax cuts, and has supported alterations to both veterans benefits in the tax code and to college tuition being taxed. He also has been an avid environmentalist, supporting the expansion of several national parks both inside and outside of his state, and extending grants to existing national parks.
Seemingly dissonant to this last point, Sessions was instrumental in expanding offshore oil rigs and natural gas extraction. While this may have created the opportunity to create additional jobs for Alabamans and residents of the Gulf states, it opened nearly 150 million acres of land up for a crisis much like that of British Petroleum in 2010, which happened in the very area that Sessions assisted in opening up in the first place.
Many of the points I am mentioning are not related to law in any way, but are just some background facts about Senator Sessions. What I am more concerned about is the quotes that Mr Sessions has floated about marijuana, one of the key legal battles in the United States as of current. In 2016, there are 27 states that have legalized marijuana for either recreational or medicinal usage, with most having only voted to legalize medicinal marijuana. What is truly stopping these states from being sued in a federal court for violating federal laws is the Obama administration, which includes Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Their direction to not pursue these states for violating the law has protected them for some time, but not for much longer. Senator Sessions has said time and time again that “good people don’t smoke marijuana“. To some, this seems like a very small issue in comparison to the legitimate issues at hand, such as racial tensions. If these same people had done their research, they would have realized that Senator Sessions allegedly prosecuted several black individuals in Alabama for, wait for it, voting.
As a libertarian myself, I am mildly amused that Trump has proposed that Senator Sessions be his Attorney General, because it seems almost unreal that the President-Elect did not do his homework on the Senator. In a more serious manner, I am deeply concerned about the fate of legal marijuana, race relations, and the LGBT+ communities in our nation as the junior Senator of Alabama is confirmed as the Attorney General. His comments about these different topics have me reeling with disgust over the potential outcomes of his prosecutions or his direction of prosecutions in America. As I have said before, we need to keep our guard up and not allow us, as the puppeteers of our national leadership, to become complacent with the decisions that our lawmakers make. It is necessary to speak out against injustices, even if they are committed against individuals that do not align directly with our beliefs.