By Stephen Owsinski:
With the hubbub surrounding Senator Jeff Sessions as President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) as Attorney General, many are wondering what we have to look forward to when he is approved and officially sworn-in as the nation’s top law enforcer. Yes, I said when and not if.
From the get-go, Senator Sessions readily stated he would recuse himself from any pursuant investigatory activity regarding the still-swirling mess created by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is a subject of inquiry regarding her nefarious behavior.
Further, Senator Sessions maintains a stalwart position pertaining to enforcement of immigration law, so it is likely he will address the sanctuary city and sanctuary campus trend taking root in some areas. Sanctuary cities allow undocumented immigrants—and their criminal deeds—to fester. By exercising the Supremacy Clause, which delineates how federal superiority overrides state laws and local ordinances, Sessions can use constitutional tenets to settle the ongoing harboring of illegal immigrants while simultaneously compelling law enforcers who are complicit in denouncing federal codes to comply.
Counter to Mr. Trump’s stance on slamming the U.S. door on all Muslims by universally banning all of them, Senator Sessions clarified that he believes scrutiny is necessary and that the entire Muslim population—as with folks from all other nations—should not be subject to abject denial from entering the our country. Immigration laws apply equally, with screening protocols dictating the outcome of each case, a factor Senator Sessions embraces. That surely can be construed as a layer of the Senator’s approach to policy, and his objectivity in applying rule of law and due process for those seeking to call America home, while also evincing bipartisan decorum. It can also be interpreted that this is a potential Attorney General who is not afraid to tell the President “No, you can’t do that…and here’s why…”
As for his view on law enforcement in America, Senator Sessions has profound respect for police culture and practices, yet he is steadfastly readied to root out and prosecute rogue officers who tarnish the badge and botch criminal justice measures. As recently reported by The Hill, the law enforcement community embraces Senator Sessions and sees him as an Attorney General who will not subjugate the role, duty, and practices of police officers. Instead, cops see him remedying a culture that has demonized officers and subjected the police profession to cataclysmic revolt and condemnation.
Unequivocally, cops view Senator Sessions as a well-oiled wheel for justice, and embrace his “police first” philosophy. Whereas one administration’s Attorney General shackled police and took away the handcuff keys, a new age is dawning whereby cops are once again empowered to fulfill their duty-bound oaths.
Several dynamics evolve from the retrospective scan of the career of Senator Sessions, namely his tenure as a lawman. An attorney through and through, his career has been spent largely in government service, most notably as a U.S. Attorney and then Attorney General of his home state of Alabama.
There was no hemming and hawing in the posture or the verbiage of Senator Sessions; both his senatorial tenure and preceding years in both private and governmental practices were all based on steady applications of the law. Respectfully speaking, he has been in the grooming process, brushing up for quite some time.
During his confirmation hearing, when Senator Lindsey Graham asked about Sessions being labeled a racist, he responded, “That caricature created of me was not accurate then, and it is not accurate now.” With that, outbursts of “KKK!” and “Racist!” bellowed from the rear of the senatorial chamber, met with a moment of deliberation as federal law enforcement officials escorted the disrupter from the building. I implore the grace and humility of Senator Graham when he smirked and rhetorically reminded everyone that freedom of speech is just as much a courtesy as is listening.
That mild rebuke was another reminder of the constitutional principle that Senator Sessions exercised throughout the confirmation process. With the unruly one displaced from the hearing, Senator Sessions sat patiently, ostensibly unfazed by the taunt. With aplomb, he seemed rather congenial throughout the proceedings, as if to tacitly recognize he was on his way to a rite of passage any lawyer could embrace. Well-earned, well-played.
At one point, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin conveyed, “Senator Sessions, there’s not a spot of evidence in your public career to suggest that, as Attorney General, you would use the authority of that office to resolve the challenges of our broken immigration system in a fair and humane manner. Tell me I am wrong!” With eye-to-eye fixation and an expression telegraphing that the insinuation was
audacious, Senator Sessions retorted, “You are wrong!” He continued his reply and underscored how illegal immigrant presence undermines respect for the law. BINGO!
Republican Senator John Cornyn called Sessions a “good, decent, and honorable man.” Harping on a characterization of Senator Sessions, including how he often debates with his wife and admits differences in opinion, the point was made that Sessions reasons through the perspectives of others and weighs the most appropriate applications of law. Sounds like a grasp of the core ingredients inherently requisite in an Attorney General.
Senator Cornyn, a huge supporter of law enforcement, touched upon the pervasive assaults and barbaric ambushes on police officers that have recently occurred. He and Senator Sessions were unified in statements of national proportions, saying, “We are failing to appreciate police officers placing their lives at risk.” Sessions also conveyed with concern, “I can feel it in my bones about how it was going to play out in the world when we had, what I thought, oftentimes, was legitimate criticism of what was perhaps wrongdoing of an officer, but spilling over into condemnation of our entire police force.”
Sessions followed with how diminished police morale is, stemming from the aforementioned view.
“We as a nation need to respect our law officers,” Sessions echoed in the senatorial chamber.
On his senatorial website, John Cornyn categorized Senator Sessions as “somebody who believes unequivocally in color-blind justice and equal justice under the law.”
Pre-determinedly, Senator Sessions included robust commentary in his opening statement, especially relating to law enforcement in America. In that regard, he is as enamored with frontline warriors as he is in enforcing rule of law. Sounds like a venerable and influential coach to me.
I see Senator Sessions as calm, unmoved by baseless accusations, sensible, honorable, well-balanced, and candid with the prospect of filling the role of United States Attorney General, as more than alluded to in his opening remarks. “I feel the weight of an honor greater than I have aspired to. If I am confirmed, I commit to you and to the American people to be worthy of that office and the special trust that comes with it.”
In the confluence of past allegations and the possibility of watching a colleague advance to one of the highest offices in the United States, one wonders why several senators are only now picking at an antiquated label — racist — after two decades of serving alongside each other. To question one’s character while oblivious to one’s own ethics and morality beckons suspicion and epitomizes hypocrisy.
Democratic Senator Al Franken tried to thread a needle through some semantics-based stuff concentrating on Senator Sessions and his time as a federal prosecutor, and sought clarity on a quote which contained the phrase “20 or 30 cases” filed eons ago. Senator Franken wanted specificity and, in that regard, burned his time uselessly. It was akin to throwing a splinter at Senator Sessions and expecting it to stick. Senator Sessions appeared bemused. I know I was.
Overall, Senator Sessions is a long-time, sterling law practitioner and caters to our nation a solid base of meting out justice. With soon-to-be Attorney General Sessions, not much is brackish.
America’s cops stand behind Senator Sessions as the next DoJ figurehead, a man from whom they can derive aptly-applied law and order. It is no wonder, really. Asking law enforcement officers if they advocate for and support someone the likes of Senator Sessions is akin to asking chefs if they think Emeril Lagasse can dish up a scrumptious meal. You get it!
After the outgoing Administration’s apparent sentiment regarding law enforcement officers—grossly mistreated and mischaracterized throughout the eight-year reign—it comes as a breath of pure, detritus-free air.
Stephen Owsinski is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer.To contact or book OpsLens contributors on your program or utilize our staff for your story, contact [email protected]