Coretta Scott King Wrote a Letter Opposing Jeff Sessions's 1986 Nomination as Federal Judge

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

The Senate confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions, the good ol’ boy from Alabama and Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, got underway today and by all accounts, it was a real doozy. Sessions spent a lot of time answering questions about his racist past and values that heavily influenced his policymaking – so racist, in fact, that in 1986, when he was up for a federal judgeship, Coretta Scott King wrote a letter to Congress strongly urging them to reconsider.


In the letter, obtained by the Washington Post, Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow said that appointing Sessions as a federal judge would “irreparably damage” all the work her husband did for civil rights in this country. The letter was instrumental in the arguments against Sessions’s confirmation to federal judge and was ultimately part of the reason why he was denied.

From the Washington Post:

“Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts,” King wrote in the cover page of her 9-page letter opposing Sessions’s nomination, which failed at the time.

“Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”


The letter had not been released until today and for some strange reason, was never entered into the congressional record by then-Judiciary Committee Chair Strom Thurmond.

“The irony of Mr. Sessions’ nomination is that, if confirmed, he will be given a life tenure for doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods,”she wrote. Despite the fact that her words still very much apply twenty years after the fact, it’s likely that Sessions will still secure the nomination. So much for progress.

Read the entire letter here.

Senior Writer, Jezebel

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So we’re not just undoing Obama’s legacy; we’re starting to undo King’s.