In the hopes of blocking one of the last highly controversial Cabinet nominees, over one million petition signatures against Jeff Sessions were delivered to Congress Tuesday from constituents across the country. Sessions' colleague Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut accepted the petitions from Wade Henderson, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, one of the primary organizations behind the protest drive.
"Jeff Sessions has a 30-year record of racial insensitivity, disregard for the rule of law, and hostility toward the protection of civil rights," Henderson said to the crowd gathered at the Capitol Building. "The Justice Department has the responsibility to protect the rights and liberties of all Americans, and to serve as an essential, independent check on the excesses of an administration. For decades, Jeff Sessions has demonstrated that he is not up to the job. Senator Sessions has built his Senate career as an opponent of immigrants, the LGBT community, women, people with disabilities, and people of color."
Although the competition is particularly fierce this year, Sessions might be the most opposed Cabinet nominee. He received the dubious honor of being the first senator to have a sitting colleague testify against him during a Cabinet confirmation hearing when Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey roasted him for his voting record. Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee which vetted Sessions for the job, has also been outspoken about his disapproval of Sessions' appointment.
"Senator Sessions has failed to convince me that he will be a champion of constitutional rights," Blumenthal said in a statement after the hearings. "I have no confidence he will be the independent, non-political enforcer the nation needs — at a moment when the incoming Administration faces ethical and legal controversies that are unprecedented in scope and scale in our history."
Unfortunately, these petitions aren't likely to affect much change. The Senate is divided on Sessions, but his fellow Republicans already have the majority they need. Plus, one Democratic senator, Joe Manchin of West Virigina, has said that he will vote for Sessions after establishing a friendship with him during their years in the Senate together, so that pretty much destroys any chance of the Democrats being able to block the nomination.
Still, every act of public resistance that goes ignores by congressional Republicans leads them closer to their own downfall — the leaders of a true democracy won't be leaders for much longer if they continue to act in direct defiance of their own constituency.