January 19, 2017

Van Hollen Statement in Opposition to Confirmation of Attorney General Nominee Senator Jeff Sessions

Washington, DC - Today U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen issued the following statement announcing his opposition to the confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions to serve as the next Attorney General of the United States:

"The Attorney General holds a very special position in our democracy, serving as a champion for the people and a defender of those whose only power lies in their rights under the law and in our Constitution. Nominees must be judged based on whether their life's work demonstrates a commitment to meeting the mission of the office they are asked to lead. The Latin motto on the Department of Justice's seal refers to the Attorney General as the one 'who prosecutes on behalf of justice.' The Attorney General must be the people's lawyer and be zealous in the pursuit of justice for all Americans. After reviewing the record of Senator Sessions, I am not convinced that he will be a vigorous defender of the rights of all Americans, especially those who have fallen victim to the powerful or the status quo.

"Long before I considered running for elected office myself, I had the honor of working for Senator Mac Mathias of Maryland. In 1986, despite being a member of the Republican Party, Senator Mathias was one of the deciding votes against then U.S. Attorney Sessions' nomination for a federal judgeship.

"Since then, Senator Sessions' statements and actions have done little to reassure Americans. On the contrary, his record of words and deeds - with respect to civil rights, voting rights, women's rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of individuals with disabilities - reveal that he too often sides with the powerful and the status quo rather than standing up for justice for all. We need an Attorney General who will apply the law to make more real the promise of equal rights and equal justice in America, and the record to date indicates that Senator Sessions fails to meet that important test.

"In addition, I am deeply troubled by the positions Senator Sessions has taken on issues related to immigration reform and I am not persuaded that he would be an independent check on an incoming President who has made clear that he is prepared to trample the rights of immigrants and religious minorities.

"For all these reasons, while I respect Senator Sessions' record of service to his state in the Senate for 20 years, I do not believe he should serve as our next Attorney General."