If Attorney General Jeff Sessions was trying to convince people he isn’t racist, he might have wanted to rethink his impromptu remarks during the National Sheriffs Association winter meeting. While speaking to law enforcement officials on Monday in Washington, Sessions referred to the legal system as being a part of “Anglo-American heritage.”
“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 stated.
He then added, “The office of sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement.”
This wasn’t actually supposed to be part of his speech. The written version shows that Sessions was supposed to say “The sheriff is a critical part of our legal heritage.” His Anglo-American remark was unscripted.
According to Department of Justice spokesperson Ian Prior, the term “Anglo-American law” is commonly used by legal scholars and lawyers.
“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. The sheriff is unique to that shared legal heritage. 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,” Prior said.
However, Sessions, or at least his speechwriters, clearly knew that the current rhetoric of the term wouldn’t be taken well, this using “legal heritage.” Sessions could have also just said “common law.”
"The office of Sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement. We must never erode this historic office" : Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaking at the National Sheriff's Association winter conference in DC. @vicenews pic.twitter.com/gPS6AbkS30
— Tess Owen (@misstessowen) February 12, 2018