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As Jeff Sessions is knee-deep in a confirmation testimony to become this nation’s next Attorney General, a letter written 30 years ago by Coretta Scott King about the senator has recently come to light.

According to the Washington Postthe widow of Martin Luther King Jr. crafted a scathing critique of Sessions—who back then was an Alabama state senator who was being considered for federal judgeship in 1986. Scott King stressed that allowing Sessions to join the federal bench would “irreparably damage the work of my husband.” 

“Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts,” King wrote in the cover page opposing Sessions’ nomination. “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.”

Throughout the nine page letter, Scott accused Sessions of encouraging “politically-motivated voting fraud prosecutions” and “lack[ing] the temperament, fairness and judgment to be a federal judge.” She was also turned off by Sessions’ lackluster record on voting rights. 

“I urge you to consider carefully Mr. Sessions’ conduct in these matters,” she wrote. “Such a review, I believe, raises serious questions about his commitment to the protections of the voting rights of all American citizens and consequently his fair and unbiased judgement regarding this fundamental right.”

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“Based on his record, I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect on not only the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made everywhere toward fulfilling my husband’s dream that he envisioned over twenty years ago,” she continued.

She added: “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.”

BuzzFeed News first reported the existence of the letter early on Tuesday, while The Washington Post published the full letter on Tuesday night. [You can read the letter in its entirety here.]


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Coretta Scott King 1986 Letter Blasts Jeff Sessions  was originally published on