Jeff Sessions, My Pro-Rape Senator

Dear Senator Sessions,

I am stunned and appalled at your vote against SA 2588 to H.R. 3326, the 2010 Defense Appropriation Act. The amendment would prevent government contractors or subcontractors from receiving federal funds if they require their employees to submit to arbitration if they are sexually assaulted while on the job by other employees. In short: your vote against this measure is a vote for companies escaping culpability in rape cases. Shame on you.

This amendment was driven in part by Jamie Leigh Jones’s experiences. As a 21-year-old working for KBR/Halliburton in Iran, she claims to have been gang raped after sipping a drugged drink. Guards following KBR orders confined her to a shipping container; she was freed only after she managed to call her father, who involved Texas Representative Ted Poe. Hers was one of several rapes involving KBR personnel. KBR claims none of the raped women can sue KBR due to arbitration clauses in their contract. Even worse, KBR has continually delayed arbitration in these cases, preventing due process.

In your speech on the Senate floor, you claimed that arbitration is a fair substitute for a court case, and that it can be better and less expensive for employees. Consumer Reports, a non-partisan advocate for individuals, vehemently disagrees. As Consumer Reports points out, arbitration involves a third party selected by the corporation. No public record is kept. There is no accountability; there is no transparency. It substitutes private corporate decisions for public decisions by a jury of peers, and subverts the justice system that you, as a former U.S. Attorney, once swore to uphold.

Furthermore, you said that the Congress should not be involved in writing or re-writing contracts. This is not a re-write of contracts; this is a statement of who the U.S. Government will do business with. The Congress has the power of the checkbook, and can decide where that money goes and why. The amendment did not specify how contracts should be written; it specified that contracts should not be let to companies hiding from their employees behind the shield of arbitration to prevent rape victims from suing them. If this is untenable, then so is the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which has prevented the government from doing business with companies that discriminate on the basis of race or gender.

On your website, you state that, like me, you are a Christian. Christ’s concern was for the downtrodden. He broke bread with the tax collectors and the prostitutes, not the religious leaders and the politically powerful. On this issue you have sided with the corporation over the individual, with Halliburton over Jamie Leigh Jones.

In your remarks during Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings, you stated that empathy was a bad thing for a judge to have. Based on your vote on this matter, I can only assume that you think empathy is a terrible thing for a Senator to have as well.

I have a two-year-old daughter. Because of your vote, I cannot imagine her working for the federal government as a contractor. Your vote signals that you accept corporations covering up rapes as a matter of course. You have two daughters; I am appalled that you are comfortable with this behavior, and can only hope that you would feel differently if it were your daughters in this situation.

As a father and as a Christian, I can only say again: you should be ashamed of your vote. It betrays the very values you claim to hold.


Stephen Granade

This turned into a long letter, and was far more reasoned than I would naturally have been. My first reaction was to write a letter that read, in its entirety, “Senator Sessions: Fuck you.” That a man who has two daughters could sleep comfortably at night having said, “Hey, you got raped and your employer tried to cover it up, but that’s okay” enrages me beyond belief. With this vote, Sessions (and his compatriot Senator Shelby) have shown that they are hollow men incapable of empathizing with women.

11 thoughts on “Jeff Sessions, My Pro-Rape Senator

  1. Well said. But why bring the magic space Jew into it? I don’t see where bringing up that you both believe in the same diety has anything to do or add to the conversation as a whole.

  2. Given that Stephen originally wrote directly to Senator Sessions, referencing common ground — or, at least, Sen. Sessions’ assertion that he holds values rooted in a particular tradition, in which Stephen is a participant — is an appropriate rhetorical technique; reproducing his letter to the senator here saves Stephen time, establishes the nature of his prior involvement in this discussion, and draws attention to Senator Sessions’ hypocrisy.

    Stephen has written about his religious faith and practice before on this blog; while you, he and I may hold three divergent viewpoints on religion, I can say that Stephen lives the best values of the Christian tradition in his daily life. Anyone would do well to hold themselves to the same standard of conduct Stephen does; if more people did, our world would be a better place.

  3. Will,

    Scott nailed it. What you disparagingly call the “magic space Jew” is something Sessions and I have in common. If he and I are to be Christians, then we are to follow Christ’s example — it’s right there on the label. I look at how Jesus treated the adulterous woman, someone who had broken Mosaic law, and then I look at how Sessions treated Jamie Leigh Jones, who broke no law and was horribly victimized, and I see an irreconcilable gap between Sessions’s words and actions.

  4. “Magic Space Jew” is completely offensive. I feel sorry for the person who wrote that.
    I agree with you, Stephen.

  5. 1. I agree, “Magic Space Jew” is extremely offensive. I’m not a Christian, but I don’t feel the need to ridicule people who are or try to invalidate their faith or their God(s).

    2. I would love to see Sessions’ repsonse when he/his office answers. I used to be “represented” by Sen. Rick Santorum. (That’s in quotes because our beliefs are polar opposites.) Right around the time he was being lambasted in the press for comparing homosexuality to bestiality, I wrote him about a different issue that I had with his service as legislator. My response was the form letter they were sending to everyone who complained about his comments on homosexuality. I was livid. I was so mad I wrote a letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bad enough he was being a jackass but that his flunkies didn’t even have the sense to read my letter before answering it just infuriated me beyond belief. So I’m very curious to see what Sessions’ office has to say in response to your well-reasoned letter.

    1. I expect to get a form letter, since that’s normally how it’s handled. It’s what I’ve gotten every other time I’ve written someone in Congress — with one exception. When I lived in NC I wrote both senators on a funding issue, and got a non-form letter back from Jesse Helms’s office.

  6. Bravo! Sessions and Shelby should be ashamed of this vote. However, we both know they have no shame when it comes to protecting big business. How they can vote against this and call themselves Christians is beyond my understanding.

  7. Very well said I may have to “borrow” some of this seeing as my Senator voted the same way.
    Like some Im not christian and I would even refrain from saying what Will said to even the least devout of my friends not just out of religious respect but respect of others in general and my family would kill me for any such stupid remarks.

  8. now you’ve done the impossible – I’m impressed with something Jesse Helms did. 🙂 I’d still like to see what they think is suitable content for their form letter response.

    In case it was unclear, my problem with Santorum’s letter wasn’t that it was a form letter, it was that the form letter in no way addressed what I wrote them about. It was about a different subject entirely.

  9. I think it’s a terrific letter. But you imply that he has voted his conscience, or even has the option to. I think that votes like this tell me how much pressure big money brings to bear on our electors. Every day I see more signs that our government is bought and paid for by the people they’re supposed to be protecting us FROM.

    In other words, I’m a sad panda.

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