Factsheet: Jeff Sessions
IMPACT: Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ties to anti-Muslim organizations and individuals, such as Stephen Miller, the Center for Security Policy, Frank Gaffney, and David Horowitz and his Freedom Center. In addition to his anti-immigration and anti-civil rights remarks and voting record in Congress, Sessions has claimed that Islam is a “totalitarian threat” and believes that sharia is incompatible with the U.S. Constitution.
In 2017, Jeff Sessions was confirmed as the Attorney General of the United States, nominated by President Donald Trump. He previously served as the Attorney General of Alabama and was a United States Senator from 1997 to 2016.
In a September 2015 Senate press release, Sessions warned of the “totalitarian threat to the free world…from ideological and apocalyptic Islam.” He also said that “theologically-based Sharia law fundamentally conflicts with our magnificent constitutional order that separates church and state, and that considers free debate and dissent the way to a better world.”
Stephen Miller, Senior Advisor to President Trump on policy and co-architect of the travel ban executive order, otherwise known as the Muslim ban, worked as then-Senator Sessions’ communications director from 2009 to 2016. The Atlantic reported that while he worked for Sessions, Miller collaborated with Breitbart and its former head, Steve Bannon.
On September 5th, 2017, Sessions announced President Trump’s repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protected from deportation undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.
According to SPLC, Sessions has “longstanding and extensive ties to both anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim extremist groups,” in addition to anti-LGBTQ groups.
In 2014, Sessions received the “Daring the Odds: The Annie Taylor Award” from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a center led by David Horowitz, who the SPLC identifies as an anti-Muslim “extremist.” The award has previously been given to anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller, who considers Islam a “radical and extreme ideology.”
In 2015, Sessions was awarded the “Keeper of the Flame” from the Center for Security Policy (CSP) run by Frank Gaffney, a conspiracy theorist who the SPLC also describes as a vocal “anti-Muslim activist.”
Sessions was a vocal advocate for President Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and supported him in his proposed policies including Trump’s travel ban, otherwise known as his Muslim ban.
In 2015, Sessions was one of four senators, along with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), to vote against a non-binding resolution in December 2015 that “affirm[ed] that the United States does not use religious tests for immigrants seeking admission into the country.”
During his confirmation hearings, however, Sessions claimed that he does not think that “Muslims as a religious group should be denied entry to the United States.”
While in the Senate, Sessions with then-Senior Advisor and Communications Director Stephen Miller, pushed anti-refugee research and talking points.
In September 2017, Sessions spoke at the Georgetown University law school on the topic of free speech on college campuses. At the end of his speech, Sessions described Afghanistan as having “no heritage” of what that United States “ha[s] been blessed with,” which he identified as a heritage that “causes us to understand in a more deep way…why freedom is important.” Scholars argue that this type of discourse is a cultural racism argument for modern imperialism.
Sessions has been critical of minority rights advocacy groups, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). A Justice Department lawyer, J. Gerald Hebert, testified in Sessions’ 1986 federal judgeship hearing that while working together, Sessions referred to the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as “un-American” and “Communist-inspired” groups that “forced civil rights down the throats of people.”
Although Sessions has denied being a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) sympathizer, previous assistant U.S attorney Thomas Figures testified in the 1986 hearing that Sessions said he thought “the KKK were “OK until [he] found out they smoked pot.”
Last updated November 1, 2017