Published: Thu, February 15, 2018

Jeff Sessions Faces Backlash over "Anglo-American Heritage of Law Enforcement" Comments

Jeff Sessions Faces Backlash over

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose political career has been dogged by allegations of racist comments, faces a fresh backlash after harkening back to the "Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement" during a speech to the National Sheriffs' Association on Monday. Newsweek headlined a story with "Jeff Sessions faces fresh racism charge after praising "Anglo-American Heritage' of law enforcement".

Rather than making a racial statement, however, Sessions was more likely referring to the fact that the position of "sheriff" is almost unique to areas that have historic ties to England.

Invoking the great "Anglo-American heritage" of cops appears to be some improv on Sessions's part.

During his confirmation hearing for attorney general, Sessions said he'd been mischaracterized. "The comments were divisive and failed to acknowledge that law enforcement has been a part of American history and culture for many ethnic groups and not just Anglos", Demings reportedly said.

The NAACP, one of the country's largest civil rights organizations, quickly condemned Sessions' comments.


Consequentially, outside of the United Kingdom and America, there are sheriffs in the former British Colonies of Australia, Nigeria, Canada, South Africa, and even India, where the office survives as a ceremonial position of honor. "The Sheriff is a critical part of our legal heritage". Not if you ask the Department of Justice.

But Rose said it was "dumber than a bag of hammers" to use the phrase, given its racially charged connotation in a politically divided time.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, called it dog-whistle language meant to "pit Americans against each other" and said he had no regrets about voting against Sessions' confirmation.

In his improvised remark, Sessions was referring to the common law, said Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior. "Before reporters sloppily imply nefarious meaning behind the term, we would suggest that they read any number of the Supreme Court opinions that use the term". There, he described 1000 years of evolution of rule of law and of the Anglo-American common law system.

Prior pointed to a number of cases in which the phrase "Anglo-American law" has been used by legal scholars.

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