In May of 2009, Senator Sessions was selected by his colleagues to serve as Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a panel on which he has served since his arrival in the Senate in 1997. Sessions held this position until December of 2010.
As U.S. Attorney and Attorney General for the state of Alabama, Sessions earned a reputation as a tough but fair prosecutor who understood the important role that law enforcement plays in keeping our communities safe. He brings those values to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he is a reliable voice for the rule of law and the supremacy of the U.S. Constitution in American law and government.
That Constitution grants the Senate the right to offer advice and consent on judicial nominees, a process that typically begins in the Judiciary Committee. Throughout his time in the Senate, Sessions has worked to promptly confirm principled, non-activist judges who adhere to the rule of law, prompting the Conservative Leaders Alliance to describe him as “a leading advocate of confirming federal judges who follow the law and do not legislate legislation from the bench.”
In the summer of 2009, Sessions served as the Republicans’ top questioner during the hearings on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Sessions used the process to again shed light on the important role of judges in our society, arguing forcefully that judges should rule on the merits of the case and resist the temptation to set policy from the bench. Sessions’ leadership during the Sotomayor hearings led to the repudiation of the so-called “empathy standard,” laying the groundwork for debates about the future of the American judiciary.
Sessions’ legislative priorities include numerous efforts to promote law and order and empower law enforcement officers and prosecutors to fairly and justly fight crime.
In the years since September 11th, Sessions has worked hard to ensure that the FBI and intelligence agencies have the tools they need to prevent another terrorist attack on our soil. Sessions has sponsored legislation to shut down rogue Internet pharmacies that distribute controlled substances without proof of identity, age, or prescription, and has supported new cyber-crime centers to fight the proliferation of online child pornography. Together with the late Senator Ted Kennedy, Sessions authored legislation to end sexual assault in prisons.
In 2007, Sessions was a vocal critic of the flawed comprehensive immigration reform bill, heading up the Senate opposition that eventually led to the bill’s defeat. Sessions is a tireless advocate for commonsense improvements to our nation’s broken immigration system, and he strongly believes that the first step to restoring a lawful system of immigration is to stop rewarding illegality. For example, Sessions is a champion of E-Verify, a free federal database that allows employers to easily check the immigration status of potential employees. Sessions also supports strong border enforcement measures to discourage people from entering our country illegally.