Booker / Warren 2020
Booker / Warren 2020

This afternoon, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker broke with tradition and became the first sitting Senator to testify against his own colleague, Jeff Sessions.

The Senator from Alabama has endured 9.5 hours of tongue-lashing from Democrats (and tongue-fucking from Republicans) during his confirmation hearing for U.S. Attorney General, but Booker's testimony today provides the most righteous, direct critiques of Sessions's record.

Booker lays into Sessions on exactly the thing that I was hoping Senators would lay into him about yesterday: Sessions's "bone-deep" feeling that criticism of the police somehow leads to more violence in cities like Chicago and Baltimore.

“[Sessions's] record indicates that we cannot count on him to support state and national efforts to bring justice to the justice system" Booker says. "And [there are] people on both sides of the aisle who readily admit that the justice system as it stands now is biased against the poor, against drug-addicted, against the mentally ill, and against people of color."

Despite Sessions's "feelings" that police officers are the embattled class here, the people who are actually feeling the heat are the people who Booker lists above. Moreover, criticism of the police doesn't, as Sessions suggested yesterday, make it harder for cops to do their jobs. Criticism is valuable information that can be used as guidelines for meaningful reform efforts. It can be used, as Booker says, to bring justice to the justice system.

Criticism of the police following the Ferguson protests resulted in a DOJ investigation of the Ferguson Police Department. That investigation found that the FDP consistently violated the First and Fourth Amendments by "conducting stops without reasonable suspicion and arrests without probable cause," "using unreasonable force," and "interfering with the right to free expression." The FPD wasn't pushing high quotas and pulling over people who were driving while black in the service of justice—they were doing it in the service of funding.

Booker also castigated Sessions for his record of voting against protections for women, LGBTQ people, immigrants, and voting rights. If you want to make yourself sick, read Emily Bazelon's piece for the New York Times on Sessions's pernicious attack on voting rights for black people in Alabama.

“If one is to be Attorney General, they must be willing to continue the hallow tradition in our country of fighting for justice for all, for equal justice, for civil rights,” Booker says. "Senator Sessions record does not speak to that desire or will."

There's that fire I was looking for yesterday. I'm glad Booker (and John Lewis, and the Congressional Black Caucus) brought it today.