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Sessions' Mixed Message to Muslims

downloadBy Rachel Levinson-Waldman | Contributor, Jan. 11, 2017
On Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Sessions faced the first day of questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee to determine whether he will be this country's next attorney general. The all-day hearing covered issues ranging from voting rights, to encryption, to immigration, to drug courts, to whistleblowers. One major topic of discussion, to which the senators returned repeatedly, was how the nation's next top cop would treat Muslims in light of President-elect Donald Trump's suggestions (and subsequent denials) that he might institute a flat ban on Muslim immigration or establish a registry for Muslims within the United States. Sessions' answers offered both assurances and cause for alarm. When asked whether he supports a registry of "United States citizens who happen to be Muslims," Sessions rejected the proposal. He referred, as he did several times throughout the hearing, to the importance of religious freedom, which he emphasized applied to Muslims to the same degree as any other religions. And while previous administrations instituted a country-based registry, there are compelling arguments that those registries would be unconstitutional today. Given Trump's incendiary comments about Muslims, Sessions' disavowal was therefore a critical and much-needed statement.
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