Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the only African American Republican senator, plans to support Sen. Jeff Sessions’s nomination to serve as the next attorney general.
Scott’s announcement late Monday should give a last-minute lift to Sessions as he appears on Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. And Scott’s announcement is notable because he has been publicly holding out on his Alabama colleague as recently as Sunday, telling The Washington Post that he was still mulling a decision.
Scott said he has put “special emphasis” on Sessions’s nomination because the senator was rejected for a federal judgeship in 1986 in part due to racially insensitive remarks.
Scott said because of the rejection, “I owe it to the people of South Carolina, and the people of the United States, to make the right decision.”
But recently, Scott invited Sessions to visit Charleston, S.C., the sight of a 2015 shooting at one of the city’s historic churches. The senators met with local pastors, a conversation Scott said that revealed “a clearer picture of not only Jeff’s policy positions, but what is in his heart.”
“We may not agree on everything, but you would be hard pressed to find a nominee for any post that any Senator is in 100 percent agreement with,” Scott said in his statement announcing support for Sessions. “I have gotten to know Jeff over my four years in the Senate, and have found him to be a consistently fair person. I will continue working for what I believe is in the best interest of my state and my nation, such as criminal justice reform and stopping illegal immigration.”
Scott’s support paves the way yet again for what is expected to be a swift and easy confirmation process for Sessions despite the objections of many Democrats concerned with his current and past views on civil rights and immigration.
Despite Scott’s support, the Senate’s other African American member, Cory Booker (D-N.J.), plans to join a panel of witnesses convened to publicly express concerns with Sessions’s nomination. That panel will include civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and leaders of the NAACP.