Gerry Hebert Submits Testimony on Jeff Sessions’ Civil Rights Record to Senate Judiciary


Hebert tells of racial insensitivity by Sessions, exposes willful inaccuracies in his questionnaire, and explains the harm he would do to voting rights as AG

WASHINGTON – Today, Gerry Hebert, director of voting rights and redistricting program at the Campaign Legal Center has submitted written testimony for the Jan. 10-11 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Jeff Sessions for U.S. Attorney General, opposing Mr. Sessions’ nomination. The testimony is based on Mr. Hebert’s personal experience with Mr. Sessions, his long career as a civil and voting rights attorney, and his personal knowledge of falsehoods in Mr. Sessions’ questionnaire.

Mr. Hebert worked at the Department of Justice from 1973 to 1994 as its acting chief, deputy chief and special litigation counsel in the voting section of the civil rights division. He became acquainted with Mr. Sessions in when Sessions was U.S. Attorney in Mobile, Alabama and Mr. Hebert was litigating several voting rights cases in the state. During that time, Mr. Sessions made several racially insensitive remarks to Mr. Hebert. He appeared to agree with a statement that a white civil rights lawyer was “a disgrace to his race” and accused the ACLU and NAACP of “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people.”  After Mr. Hebert’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee in 1986 about those remarks, Sessions became the second nominee in 50 years to be voted down by the Senate for a federal judgeship.

“Sessions’ record to date only reinforces the Judiciary Committee’s concerns about his commitment to civil rights thirty years ago. He has not worked to protect civil rights but rather worked against them at every turn,” said Gerry Hebert, director of voting rights and redistricting at the Campaign Legal Center.

Mr. Sessions has an exceptionally poor record on voting rights, which includes the prosecution of innocent civil rights leaders engaged in voter registration efforts, the irresponsible fostering of a voter fraud myth as a cover for voter suppression, and the embrace of the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act in the Shelby County ruling. His record across subject areas demonstrates a disdain for civil rights protections meant to further equal representation and justice under the law.

“I first testified about Sessions 31 years ago and his allies threatened my job. I didn’t back down then and I’m not backing down now. If Mr. Sessions runs the Justice Department, he will seek to turn back the clock to a darker time in American history. I do not have faith that he will enforce basic civil rights laws that ensure equal protection of the law for all Americans, especially minorities, women, and the LGBT community.”

Finally, as Mr. Hebert has publicly explained alongside his DOJ colleagues, Sessions has not been honest with the American people or the Judiciary Committee about his record. In an attempt to deflect from his long and disqualifying record of hostility to civil rights, Mr. Sessions has claimed to have “personally handled” several civil rights cases as the U.S. Attorney in the 1980s. In fact, Mr. Hebert and his colleagues litigated these cases with no substantive input from Mr. Sessions whatsoever. These falsehoods cannot and should not fly under the radar. If he wants to be appointed the nation’s top law enforcement official, Mr. Sessions must first answer for his true, dismal record on civil rights.

To date, a diverse coalition of law professors from 170 law schools in 48 states have signed a letter opposing the confirmation of Jeff Sessions for AG.