In a recent speech, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a passing reference to the “Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement”. Naturally, this sparked outrage and new accusations that Sessions is racist.
Those accusations may be well-founded, but this is about the weakest evidence that could be offered to support them.
A solid new piece at The Washington Post explains why.
In short, descriptions of the US legal system as “Anglo-American” are actually quite mainstream, appearing routinely in legal arguments and even Supreme Court opinions. The reason this description is common is because it’s literal. The roots of the American legal system can be found in the English (that is, Anglo) common law tradition. Since the US started out as thirteen English colonies, it should be a surprise to precisely no one that the American legal system was influenced by the English one.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for criticizing Jeff Sessions. Among other problems, he’s a hard-liner on immigration, a staunch supporter of the Drug War, and an advocate for civil asset forfeiture.
The point is that we should criticize politicians primarily for the things they do, and the policies they promote–not just the words they say.
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