Scores of left-wing commentators took to social media Monday to criticize Attorney General Jeff Sessions for using a very common — and very appropriate — phrase in the legal world.
Speaking Monday at the American Sheriffs Association, Sessions touted the special role sheriffs play across the country, commending them for maintaining a strong relationship with the constituents they are elected to protect.
“I want to thank every sheriff in America. Since our founding, the independently elected sheriff has been the people’s protector, who keeps law enforcement close to and accountable to people through the elected process,” Sessions began.
The nation’s top attorney then added a line that, according to critics, amounted to implicit racism: “The office of sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement.”
Believing the phrase “Anglo-American” to be some sort of dog whistle for white supremacy, critics of the Trump administration immediately pounced.
The outrage did not stop with just liberal personalities. Democrat members of the U.S. Senate also demonstrated apparent ignorance of English common law.
Democrat Sens. Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico used their Twitter accounts to take a jab at Sessions.
Senators, of course, hold the special responsibility of confirming or denying federal judge nominees, including appointments to the Supreme Court, meaning it’s important for them to have a basic understanding of common legal terminology.
Sessions’ remark on “Anglo-American heritage,” meanwhile, had nothing to do with racism at all. The attorney general was speaking on the unique role of sheriffs in countries that have historic ties to England.
The U.S. is one of only a few counties in the world that have sheriffs, including the England, Australia, New Zealand, Wales and Scotland.
Nearly 260 decisions that reference the “Anglo-American” legal tradition are generated by a search for the term on the Supreme Court archives.
A spokesman for Sessions confirmed as much when issuing a statement following the controversy.
“As most law students learn in the first week of their first year, Anglo-American law — also known as the common law — is a shared legal heritage between England and America,” a spokesman told The Washington Free Beacon.
“The sheriff is unique to that shared legal heritage,” the statement continued. “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. Or they could simply put ‘Anglo-American law’ into Google.”
As further proof that such a phrase is widely used in the legal world, one only needs to refer back to past statements made by former President Barack Obama, who touts a strong background in constitutional law.
National Review uncovered what then-Senator Obama said in 2006 when arguing in favor of habeas corpus.
“The world is watching what we do today in America. They will know what we do here today, and they will treat all of us accordingly in the future — our soldiers, our diplomats, our journalists, anybody who travels beyond these borders. I hope we remember this as we go forward. I sincerely hope we can protect what has been called the ‘great writ’ — a writ that has been in place in the Anglo-American legal system for over 700 years,” Obama said at the time.
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