Trump Attorney General Pick Jeff Sessions Argued For A Religious Test To Ban Muslims

Less than a year ago Sen. Jeff Sessions argued in favor of using religion as a reason to ban immigrants from entering the US.

Bill Clark/Getty

Donald Trump’s attorney general pick, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, argued passionately that a Muslim ban needed to be an option, and publicly assailed the proposed ban’s critics during a Senate committee hearing late last year.

On Dec. 10, 2015, Sessions broke with most of his Republican Senate Judiciary Committee colleagues to vote against an amendment stating that the Senate would not create policies that discriminate based on religion. Of the committee’s 11 Republicans, 7––including John Cornyn, Chuck Grassley, and Mike Lee––voted for the amendment offer by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy. But Sessions, joined by Ted Cruz and two other Republicans, voted against it.

But Sessions didn’t stop there. The Alabama senator also gave a 30-minute speech to the committee room arguing that the federal government should be able to use whatever criteria it wants to decide who can and can’t immigrate to the U.S.––and that includes religion.

“The adoption of the Leahy Amendment would constitute a transformation of our immigration system,” Sessions said. “In effect, it is a move toward the ratification of the idea that global migration is a ‘human right,’ and a civil right, and that these so-called ‘immigrants’ rights’ must be supreme to the rights of sovereign nations to determine who can and cannot enter their borders.”

He also suggested that Leahy’s amendment would increase the risk of terrorism by making it harder to keep out radicals.

“This amendment would mean, for instance, that the United States could not favor for entry the moderate Muslim cleric over the radical Muslim cleric,” he said.

And, Sessions continued, it would make it harder to keep out people who could become terrorists after moving to the U.S.

“Many people are radicalized after they enter,” the senator said. “How do we screen for that possibility, if we cannot even ask about an applicant's views on religion? Would we forbid questions about politics? Or theology?”

Sessions concluded by intimating that Leahy’s amendment could potentially be a step toward one-world government.

“It goes beyond being unwise,” he said. “It is reckless. It is absolute and without qualification. It could have pernicious impacts for decades, even centuries to come. It may be even a step from the concept of the nation-state to the idea of ‘global citizenship.’”

Breitbart lavished praise on Sessions for the speech––which he had previewed that morning to Stephen Bannon (now a top Trump White House advisor) on Breitbart’s SiriusXM radio show.

“I think it’s appropriate to begin to discuss this,” Sessions said. “And he has forced that discussion. We may even have a discussion about it in Judiciary Committee today. But, you know, it’s time for us to think this through. And the classical, internal American religious principles I don’t think apply providing constitutional protections to persons not citizens who want to come here.”

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Sessions added that there are “millions of wonderful, decent, good Muslims, hundreds of millions worldwide.”