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Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s Attorney General Pick, Is a True Nightmare for Civil Rights

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 19: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), chairs a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill May 19, 2016 in Washington, DC. The subcommittee heard testimony on immigration policies on the Obama Administration. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

In the week and a half since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, each of his various rumored and confirmed selections for cabinet and staff positions has felt like a bellwether. When he announced that Breitbart executive Steve Bannon would be chief strategist, it seemed like a sign that the president-elect’s chest-thumping and racism would be enabled at every turn. When Mitt Romney’s name came up as a potential secretary of state, Trump opponents breathed a sigh of relief—you might not have voted for him in 2012, but compared to pretty much any alternative, Romney is a pretty reasonable guy to be running U.S. foreign policy.

The latest of these bellwethers is Republican Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, whom Trump just selected as U.S. attorney general—a truly terrifying pick. Sessions is a caricature of a racist Southern senator: white guy, white hair, 69 years old, named after not one but two Confederate leaderssees nothing bigoted about banning Muslims from entering the country. As Jezebel pointed out, Sessions only ended up running for U.S Senate in the first place because his future colleagues deemed him too racist for the federal judgeship to which Ronald Reagan attempted to appoint him in 1986.

That’s not some liberal spin on the facts: the Senate Judiciary Committee that declined to confirm Sessions was controlled by Republicans, and among the reasons they gave for declining him was a statement he made about the KKK. Sessions thought members of the group “were O.K. until I found out they smoked pot,” he said.

Sessions is not merely some old man who occasionally misspeaks, but gets serious and principled when it’s time to govern. Matthew Chapman, a contributor at the pro-Clinton site Shareblue, tweeted an upsetting rundown of what the Department of Justice might look like under Sessions. You can read a few of the important points below:

“If you have nostalgia for the days when blacks kept quiet, gays were in the closet, immigrants were invisible and women stayed in the kitchen, Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is your man,” Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez wrote in a statement. “No senator has fought harder against the hopes and aspirations of Latinos, immigrants and people of color than Sen. Sessions.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who will be the top Democrat on the Senate committee that will be called to confirm Trump’s appointment of Sessions, signaled that Sessions should be prepared to remain independent of Trump if he wants to be confirmed. “The attorney general is the lawyer for the people, not the president,” Feinstein said in a statement. “His or her primary loyalty must be to the Constitution and the rule of law—and sometimes that means telling the president no.”