Jeff Sessions, in his own words, on controversial topics

Jeff Sessions

President-elect Donald Trump‘s pick for U.S. Attorney General is by far ​the most controversial of his ​cabinet​ nominees as​ he previously failed to pass a Senate confirmation process once before in his ​career.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, a former federal prosecutor and state attorney general in Alabama, was previously rejected for federal judgeship over allegations of racism back in 1986.

Now, the 70-year-old staunch conservative will face the Senate once again, where his views on a wide array of issues are likely to come under scrutiny during two days of questioning.

Here’s what Sessions has had to say on several controversial topics in the past:


“We need immigration reform, all right, but reform that serves the interests of the American people – not international corporations, not anti-enforcement zealots, not the open-borders lobby.”

Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Sessions believes tough mandatory sentences will help reduce crime.

How many people do you know that are likely to take a gun and would murder somebody? The more of those that are in jail serving time, the less people are going to get murdered. It’s mathematics. [Senate speech, Oct. 13, 2015]

Legalizing Marijuana

“This drug is dangerous. You cannot play with it. It’s not funny. It’s not something to laugh about — and trying to send that message with clarity that good people don’t smoke marijuana.” [Senate drug caucus, April 5, 2016]

Women’s Issues

Sessions was one of 22 Republican senators who voted against the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) in 2013, as he voted for a stronger version of the bill compared to the one that ultimately passed.

“I support the core functions of VAWA and have my entire time in the Senate. I voted for a stronger version of the bill, that increased criminal penalties, than the one that ultimately passed. As a former federal prosecutor who put people in prison for violent acts, I understand the importance of serious penalties for these serious crimes. I have recently passed into law two measures that help federal authorities track down sex offenders.

Amazingly, the Majority chose to advance a bill that included unconstitutional provisions that subject American citizens to trial in a sovereign tribal court, the personnel of which have no democratic accountability to the American public. They steadfastly rejected attempts to alter this unacceptable provision.” [February 12, 2013]


“The United States has the burden to lead for peace. And not just peace – we need peace with justice, a much harder goal.” [Floor statement on the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, Oct. 8, 1999]

Race Relations

“In my opinion, there is probably no more sensitive area than race relations. I feel like I am one of the good guys. I feel like that I am being caricatured in a way that is not true.” [May 1986]


“Marriage has been defined by every legislature that has ever sat in the United States from every State, now 50 States, the same way, but now we have unelected judges altering and changing that fundamental institution.” [2004]

Law enforcement

Sessions said police officers have faced unfair criticism for their use of force.

“It’s clear that police officers all over America are concerned about the Department of Justice.”
[Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Nov. 17, 2015]

Judicial Activism

Sessions disapproves of judicial activism.

“Judges were praised if they advanced the law. … What that really means is you change it. If you advance it, it means the legislature hadn’t passed something that you would like, or the Constitution doesn’t advance an idea that you like, then you figure out a way to reinterpret the meaning of the words so it says what you would like it to say and what you wished the legislature had passed. … Judges need to know they are given independence and a lifetime appointment because we trust them to serve under the Constitution and not above it.” [Senate speech eulogizing Antonin Scalia, March 10, 2016]