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Coretta Scott King Wrote a Letter in 1986 Opposing Jeff Sessions’ Federal Judge Nomination, & It is Fire

During his confirmation hearing this week for the position of attorney general, Jeff Sessions tried his best to deny any allegations of racism based on his past actions—even though he was denied a federal judgeship in 1986 due to several racist comments he made. But because it’s incredibly unlikely that Sessions won’t be confirmed due to the majority-Republican Senate, Democrats didn’t push too hard on the issue (with the notable exception of Sen. Cory Booker).


There’s one voice from the past that could seriously undermine Sessions’ claim that he will vigorously promote the rights of all people as attorney general. On Tuesday, BuzzFeed News reported the existence of a letter by Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King Jr., in which she asserted that Sessions’ federal judgeship “simply cannot be allowed to happen.” For some reason, the letter had never been entered into the offical record. The Washington Post published the full nine-page letter on Tuesday evening.

“Mr. Sessions’ conduct as U.S. attorney, from his politically-motivated fraud prosecutions to his indifference toward criminal violations of civil rights laws, indicates that he lacks the temperament, fairness and judgment to be a federal judge,” King wrote.

She discusses Sessions’ approach to a 1984 voting fraud case, in which local black leaders in Perry County, Alabama were prosecuted for fraud, including helping elderly and illiterate residents change their ballots. Many took issue with how Sessions handled the case.

“It is my strongly-held view that the appointment of Jefferson Sessions to the federal bench would irreparably damage the work of my husband, Al Turner, and countless others who risked their lives and freedom over the past twenty years to ensure equal participation in our democratic system,” King wrote.

There isn’t a much more damaging blow to your civil rights credentials than a letter this harsh from a member of the King family. While this letter may not stop Sessions from being confirmed, it should certainly make us watch him closely as he takes the help as attorney general.

Katherine Mirani is the News Editor for Her Campus. She graduated from Northwestern University's journalism school in 2015. Before joining Her Campus full time, she worked on investigative stories for Medill Watchdog and the Scripps News Washington Bureau. When not obsessing over journalism, Katherine enjoys pasta, ridiculous action movies, #longreads, and her cockatiel, Oreo.
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