NEW YORK (JTA) — The Reform movement said it “strongly opposes” the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, a day after the Senate concluded his confirmation hearings.
“Senator Sessions’ testimony failed to signal a clear departure from his longstanding record of insufficient commitment to voting rights, criminal justice reform, LGBTQ equality, women’s rights, immigration reform and church-state separation,” said a statement Thursday by Rabbi Jonah Pesner, the director of the Religious Action Center, who said he was speaking on behalf of all the movement’s arms.
The statement continued: “Senator Sessions’ record and testimony causes us to believe that, as Attorney General, he would stand in the way of the Justice Department’s mandate to enforce and protect these fundamental rights.”
The Reform movement cited several pieces of legislation in line with its values, which it said were threatened by Sessions, including the Voting Rights Act, and measures to prevent violence against women and hate crimes.
Also Tuesday, the American Jewish Committee urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to probe Sessions on a number of issues, including the protection of religious communities, responses to anti-Semitism, deterrence of terrorism, civil rights and voting rights, according to a statement. The nonpartisan group also noted that it “does not endorse or oppose the confirmation of particular nominees.”
A number of liberal groups, including Bend the Arc, the National Council of Jewish Women and Jewish Women International, had previously declared their opposition to the Sessions nomination.
The three groups and a number of regional NCJW chapters joined a letter Monday to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee urging members not to confirm Sessions. The letter, initiated by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, accrued signatures from 650 national and local groups.
Sessions’ confirmation hearing ended Wednesday, but the panel won’t vote on his appointment until after Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20. To be confirmed, he needs 51 votes in Senate, which now has 52 Republican members.
Josefin Dolsten is a news fellow at the Forward. She writes about politics and culture, and edits the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten.