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WTH? Jeff Sessions Vows To Protect 'Anglo-American Heritage Of Law Enforcement'

15 February 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions raised eyebrows while praising the "Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement" during a speech to the National Sheriffs' Association on Monday.

Sessions' phrasing deviated from his prepared remarks as published by the Justice Department, where the line was "The Sheriff is a critical part of our legal heritage".

Sessions continued to say the White House will continue to strengthen law enforcement.

The study sorted states based on their legal standards required to justify forfeiture, how much of the forfeited revenue goes toward law enforcement officers' own budgets and whether the burden of proof is on the defendant to establish innocence.

Then, he made the questionable "Anglo-American" comment.

Sessions was once denied a federal judgeship in his native Alabama over allegations that he had referred to a black co-worker as "boy". According to CNN, the attorney general's written statement contained the line: "The sheriff is a critical part of our legal heritage".

The "Anglo-American" phrase has inspired some criticism from those that said the comment was racially insensitive. "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", he added.

Only countries like the United States, who inherit their "common law" legal systems from that of England, keep the tradition of the sheriff alive.

"There is this long list of things this administration has done and Sessions has done in one year that signal great deference to law enforcement at the expense of communities of color", said Kanya Bennett, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Ian Prior, a spokesperson for the DOJ, claimed that Sessions' comments referred to a common term among lawyers, "Anglo-American law". "Or they could simply put "Anglo-American law" into Google", Prior said.

And indeed, the connection between the office of sheriff and its establishment by England is well documented.

"Anglo-American" also is a term generally used to refer to English common law, which forms the basis of much of the USA legal system. Within the law, "Anglo-American" does not mean "white.' It does not mean 'the KKK.' It is not a 'dog whistle.' It is fundamental".

WTH? Jeff Sessions Vows To Protect 'Anglo-American Heritage Of Law Enforcement'