As the nomination hearings for Senator Jeff Sessions begin, here are five key facts that you may not know about the controversial Alabama Republican.
1. Jeff Sessions attended Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL and graduated with a Bachelors degree in 1969. At Huntingdon College, Sessions was active in the Young Republicans and was also student body president. In 1973, he graduated with a J.D. degree from the University of Alabama School of Law.
2. Beginning in 1975, Sessions served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. President Reagan nominated him to be the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama in 1981. He was later confirmed by the Senate and held the position for a total of 12 years.
In 1981, Sessions’ office filed civil rights charges in the killing of Michael Donald, an African-American man that was murdered in Mobile, AL by KKK members. Although his office did not prosecute the case, the men were arrested and convicted.
3. However, in 1985, Sessions prosecuted three African-American community organizers — including Martin Luther King Jr.’s former aide Albert Turner — for voter fraud. This was based on no more than 14 tampered ballots and stirred charges of selective prosecution of Black voter registration. The Marion Three were acquitted by a jury after three hours of deliberation.
4. Sessions became the second nominee to the federal judiciary in 48 years whose nomination was killed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. At the time, Sessions was quoted as saying that the Senate had, on occasion, been insensitive to the rights and reputation of nominees.
5. A black Assistant U.S. Attorney, Thomas Figures, testified that Sessions said he thought that the KKK was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.” Although Sessions later said that the comment was not serious, he did apologize for it and continued to say that he considered the group to be “a force of hatred and bigotry.”