Common Cause Indiana stepped into Sen. Joe Donnelly’s Indianapolis office Tuesday afternoon and turned over a petition with more than 4,000 signatures opposed to the nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for U.S. Attorney General.
“I can’t think of a less appropriate nominee for this position,” said Julia Vaughn, policy director for Common Cause Indiana.
Vaughn arrived at Donnelly’s district office with a white box containing a flash drive that had the petition and 4,429 signatures and met briefly with one of the Senator’s staff members. She said Hoosiers from across the state signed and the comments section of the petition included a “tremendous amount of attorneys” speaking out against the nomination.
The Indiana protest was coordinated with similar petitions being delivered to the district offices of about a dozen Republican and Democratic Senators around the country. The legislators included Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine; and Democrats Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
According to Common Cause, it along with MoveOn.org, the NAACP, People Demanding Action, NARAL, People for the American Way and Daily Kos gathered 596,327 signatures nationally.
Sessions was tapped to lead the U.S. Department of Justice by President Donald Trump. He testified for more than 10 hours before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but the committee vote was delayed Tuesday morning until next week.
Common Cause has rarely taken a position for or against a presidential nominee. Previously it opposed the nominations of Robert Bork for the Supreme Court of the United States, John Tower as Secretary of Defense and Edwin Meese as U.S. Attorney General.
However, as Vaughn explained, the nonprofit is most concerned with Sessions’ stance against the Voting Rights Act of 1965. She said the Alabama Senator’s words, writings and history show he has fought and resisted voting rights.
She said voting rights are being chipped away through voter ID laws and the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which found key parts of the Voting Right Act unconstitutional. The confirmation of Sessions, she said, would be the “final blow.”
“Anybody who knows and understands the history of Civil Rights and the Voting Rights Act in this country, knows they are integrated in an ugly way,” Vaughn said. “It’s very important they be vigorously enforced by the top cop at the Department of Justice.”
Common Cause Indiana did not deliver a copy of the petition to Indiana’s freshman Sen. Todd Young. Vaughn said the organization is expecting the Republican will “toe the party line” and support the nomination.
Donnelly, on the other hand, has not publicly stated how he will vote on the nomination and could be feeling pressure to support Sessions because Indiana is a conservative state and he is facing re-election next year. Vaughn said the petition lets Donnelly know thousands of Hoosiers want him to vote no and will back him when he runs for office again.