Cory Booker and Kamala Harris Join Senate Judiciary Committee Following DOJ Policy Shift

Cory Booker and Kamala Harris Join Senate Judiciary Committee Following DOJ Policy Shift

The senators bring a firmer pro-marijuana stance to the committee as Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recent announcement casts uncertainty.

January 11, 2018

U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) were appointed to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary this week, where they will oversee the U.S. Department of Justice and, inevitably, its renewed vigor in marijuana prosecution. The committee is involved with judicial nominations and DOJ appointments.

Following U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ repeal of the Obama-era federal policy memos that protected state-legal marijuana businesses and the banks that work with them, Booker and Harris have spoken out against the move.

Booker pounced on the announcement immediately, tweeting on Jan. 4: “Jeff Sessions is reviving a losing war on marijuana that is devastating low-income Americans & our communities of color and dashing our ideals of equal justice. We can't let this happen. That's why I introduced the Marijuana Justice Act to legalize marijuana. Who's with me?”

The Marijuana Justice Act has gained little traction in the Senate since Booker’s introduction last August, although U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has co-sponsored the bill. Harris has not co-sponsored the legislation, despite her own messaging against the Sessions news.

“Instead of going after drug cartels, and violent crime, and major traffickers, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going after recreational marijuana users,” she wrote on Jan. 4. “That’s not being smart on crime.”California's recreational marijuana program began in earnest on Jan. 1.

Harris and Booker will now sit on the committee that will directly address the Marijuana Justice Act.

For his part, Booker has infused his appointment with an antagonism rooted in his own civil rights record. “As a new member of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Booker wrote this week, “I will make it my mission to stand up to Jeff Sessions & President Trump.”

In a public statement released this week, Booker expounded on his views: "Make no mistake about it - our country is at a decisive turning point. The Trump administration has repeatedly demonstrated its hostility to the ideals of civil rights and equal justice for all. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will make it my mission to check and balance President Trump and Attorney General Sessions. At every turn I will strive to advance the cause of reforming a broken justice system stacked against the poor and people of color, and to bend the arc of our nation's history further towards equal justice for all.”

Booker testified against Sessions' confirmation, and has rallied against the Attorney General's efforts to revive the War on Drugs. He also called for Sessions to resign following revelations that the Attorney General had withheld information about contact with Russia during his confirmation process, according to a press release.

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