Liberals are not the only ones with good reason to oppose Sessions. His record should also trouble libertarians, conservatives and others who care about protecting liberty, constitutional federalism and property rights.
[interstitial_link url="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jeff-sessions-says-he-handled-these-civil-rights-cases-he-barely-touched-them/2017/01/03/4ddfffa6-d0fa-11e6-a783-cd3fa950f2fd_story.html?utm_term=.f32bd85d4339″]Jeff Sessions says he handled these civil rights cases. He barely touched them.[/interstitial_link]
I. The Threat to Property Rights.
II. The Threat to Liberty and Federalism.
Admittedly, the Supreme Court ruled that such sweeping congressional power was permissible in its badly flawed decision in Gonzales v. Raich, which held that Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce allowed it to ban the possession of medical marijuana that had never been sold in any market or crossed state lines. But serious constitutional federalists should be opposing Raich, in line with the powerful dissenting opinions by Justices Clarence Thomas and Sandra Day O’Connor, not exploiting it to impose federal prohibition on unwilling states.
On immigration, as on marijuana legalization, Sessions is out of step with public opinion. Exit polls show that some 70 percent of Americans oppose deporting undocumented immigrants working in the United States.
III. How We Can Get a Better Nominee by Overcoming Partisan Bias.
I don’t expect any president — Democrat or Republican — to appoint an attorney general as libertarian as I would ideally prefer. Far from it. But libertarians and others who care about federalism and limiting government power can reasonably expect someone with a less terrible record than Sessions. His divergence from mainstream views on so many issues does not by by itself prove that he is wrong. But it does make him potentially vulnerable.
The flaws in Sessions’s record are serious regardless of whether we credit claims that Sessions is a racist, that cost him a nomination to a federal judgeship back in the 1980s. Even if Sessions is completely free of racial prejudice, his agenda is still a threat to liberty, property rights and constitutional federalism. You can conclude that Sessions is a bad choice for attorney general even if he’s not a bad person.
[interstitial_link url="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jeff-sessionss-actions-alone-are-disqualifying/2017/01/06/99d7c26e-d392-11e6-9cb0-54ab630851e8_story.html?utm_term=.9fcad8e2e3bc"]Jeff Sessions’s actions alone are disqualifying[/interstitial_link]
If, as seems likely, GOP senators rally around Sessions out of partisan loyalty, he will be confirmed. He may even be a “lock” for confirmation. Partisanship is a powerful drug that leads many people on both left and right to abandon their supposed principles. As Republican Rep. Justin Amash recently lamented, “partisanship remains a stronger force than ideology. Things won’t get better in politics until people care more about principles than teams.”
In this case, liberals, libertarians and conservative advocates of property rights and federalism should join together in opposing Sessions. Despite their many other differences, these groups have a common interest in stopping his nomination. All three would be better off if Trump is forced to choose a more conventional Republican, even if they still ended up opposing some of that person’s decisions. Given the close 52-48 balance in the Senate, only a handful of GOP senators need to turn against Sessions in order to defeat his nomination. Now would be a good time to set aside some of the partisan bias that is helping to poison our political system.