Back in the spring of 1986, after having successfully appointed scores and scores of conservative judges to serve on courts across the country, President Ronald Reagan went too far. He picked a federal prosecutor to a fill a vacancy on the U.S. District Court in Alabama whose nomination was so controversial that it got quashed by the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee.
That prosecutor was Jeff Sessions, the senator who, in all likelihood will serve as that committee’s most powerful Republican for the next year and a half.
But back to 1986. During the debate over his nomination, committee Democrats questioned Sessions’ prosecutorial discretion, focusing in particular on a case he pursued against three Marion, AL civil rights workers–Albert Turner, Turner’s wife Evelyn, and Spencer Hogue, Jr.–whom he accused of voter fraud. Sessions was unconcerned with claims of fraud outside the so-called Black Belt, but he alleged that the trio had falsified absentee ballots in Perry County during the 1984 election. After conducting an exhaustive investigation, though, he was able to account for only a small handful of questionable examples, and even those he couldn’t pin on his defendants, who were acquitted after only a few hours’ deliberation.
Albert Turner–who was an adviser to Martin Luther King, Jr.–passed away in 2000, and his wife could not be immediately located, but Hogue still lives in Marion, and by phone today he expressed his displeasure with the news that Sessions is, in effect, getting a promotion.
“I don’t know why he’d be promoted,” Hogue said. “It will give him more power to do things he shouldn’t.”
“We were trying to get the right to vote,” Hogue said. “He tried to persecute us.”
In his defense: you were totally screwing up the stats.