A troubling letter written by Coretta Scott King in 1986 just surfaced. The letter was submitted to then-Judiciary Chairman Strom Thurmond (R-TN) but was never entered into the congressional record. Copies of the letters were not publicly available until now. The purpose of the letter was to persuade senators to reject Jeff Sessions’ nomination to become a federal judge. Jeff Sessions did not become a federal judge, but a hearing is underway for his nomination for Attorney General.
You can find a copy of the letter here.
Here are some of the most damaging parts of the letter:
“Civil rights leaders, including my husband and Albert Turner, have fought long and hard to achieve free and unfettered access to the ballot box. Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge. This simply cannot be allowed to happen.” (pg. 2)
“Mr. Sessions’ conduct as U.S Attorney, from his politically-motivated voting 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.” (pgs. 2-3)
“The irony of Mr. Sessions’ nomination is that, if confirmed, he will be given life tenure for doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods.” (pg.4)
“The actions taken by Mr Sessions in regard to the 1984 voting fraud prosecutions represent just one more technique used to intimidate clack voters and thus deny them this most precious franchise.” (pgs. 5-6)
“In these investigations, Mr. Sessions, as U.S. Attorney, exhibited eagerness to bring to trial and convict three leaders of the Perry County Civic League including Albert Turner despite evidence clearly demonstrating their innocence of any wrongdoing. Furthermore, in initiating the case, Mr. Sessions ignored allegations of similar behavior by whites, choosing instead to chill the exercise of the franchise by blacks by his misguided investigation. In fact, Mr. Sessions sought to punish older black civil activists, advisors and colleagues of my husband, who had been key figures in the civil rights movement in the 1960’s.” (pg. 6)
“The scope and character of the investigations conducted by Mr. Sessions also warrant grave concern. Witnesses were selectively chosen in accordance with the favorability of their testimony to the government’s case. Also, the prosecution illegally withheld from the defense critical statements made by witnesses. Witnesses who did not testify were pressured and intimated into submitting the “correct” testimony. Many elderly blacks were visited multiple times by the FBI who then hauled them over 180 miles by bus to a grand jury in Mobile when they could more easily have testified at a grand jury twenty miles away in Selma. These voters, and others, have announced they are now never going to vote again.” (pg. 7)
Should Jeff Sessions be confirmed as Attorney General in light of this letter?