More groups press Jeff Sessions on civil rights commitment

WASHINGTON (AP) " The leaders of several civil rights groups said they remain concerned about the future of the Justice Department's commitment to their priorities after meeting Tuesday with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

They said Sessions gave no specifics about how he will handle a number of issues, including monitoring troubled police departments and protecting voter rights.

But the 45-minute meeting was a chance to "raise issues in ways he perhaps had not heard before," said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

"We were not hostile, but we showed holy indignation," the Rev. Al Sharpton said. "He listened earnestly."

It was the second time in a week Sessions met with civil rights leaders over their wide-ranging concerns. NAACP leaders met with him privately Friday.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the meetings, which Sessions arranged shortly after his confirmation.

Sessions has moved swiftly to set the Justice Department on a different path from his Democratic-appointed predecessors, and dramatic changes are already being felt in the area of civil rights.

The groups said they were especially troubled by his suggestion that the Justice Department would pursue fewer federal investigations of civil rights violations in police departments. It has also abandoned an Obama-era challenge to a key aspect of Texas' voter ID law that is among the toughest in the nation.

Tuesday's meeting came a day after Sessions and other officials unveiled a scaled-back version of President Donald Trump's ban on many foreign travelers. The groups made it clear they believe the new version is still unconstitutional and would continue to fight it, said Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The groups said they pressed Sessions to find a strong voice to head up the department's Civil Rights Division, but he gave no suggestion of whom he might pick.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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