More than 30 years ago, Jeff Sessions probably couldn’t have imagined what just happened. Sworn in as attorney general Thursday after being confirmed Wednesday by the same body that once rejected his bid to be a federal judge, the Alabama Republican now faces the monumental task of enforcing the nation’s laws when its lawmakers are at each others’ throats.
In 1986, the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee rejected Sessions’ nomination to be a federal district judge in Alabama. Sessions, who was then a U.S. attorney, dusted himself off and began a long political assent that culminated in Wednesday’s 52-47 vote. The same issues that bedeviled Sessions in the 1980s, questions about whether he sought to suppress black voter turnout and whether his views on race made him fit for public service, defined the nasty confirmation fight he faced.