If Jeff Sessions is holding any grudges against President Donald Trump, he didn’t air them when he spoke to a conservative legal group in Plymouth Thursday night.
Sessions did not address Trump’s recent tweet that the president regrets hiring him. Instead, Sessions’ 28-minute speech to The Federalist Society mostly covered religious freedoms and how Trump’s administration is committed to protecting them.
“We’re not going to remain on the defensive,” he said. “We’re not going to let the Constitution’s opponents dictate terms to us. We’re going to actively look for ways to restore the balance in the American tradition of protecting religious Americans and the exercise of their faith.”
Sessions also praised the American legal system, but stopped short of extending the praise to California, which he is suing over its “sanctuary state” laws. California and the Trump administration have been at odds over the changes in immigration policy the administration has been attempting to implement.
“You see that we have the most magnificent legal system,” he said. “You can go to a federal court here, you can go to one in Alabama, you can go to one in California – well maybe not California – and get consistent justice.”
Sessions’ comment drew laughter from the crowd of conservative Michigan attorneys and judges, many of whom stopped by the attorney general’s table to say hello or tried get a photo with the former Alabama senator after the event.
The Constitution was also a favorite topic. Sessions mentioned several times how Trump and the Department of Justice are committed to both the Constitution and the religious freedoms he feels are enshrined in it.
“Under President Donald Trump, the department is standing up for the Constitution as written, and that means we’re standing up for the American people and the order of this republic,” he said.
Sessions also spoke rhapsodically about the First Amendment.
“It’s fragile. It’s something we have to defend,” he said. “It’s the crown jewel of the Bill of Rights.”
Judges, according to Sessions, should carry out the rules dictated in the Constitution as it was written.
Sessions quoted from both Martin Luther King and Thomas Jefferson.
“Our Founders did not consider religion an enemy of freedom or equality,” he said. “In the Trump administration, neither do we.”
Sessions stressed the importance of having religion in our lives.
“How do we maintain integrity, morality, consistency if we don’t have a belief in a higher being and an ordered universe?” he said.
It wasn’t Sessions’ views on the Constitution or morality that had Trump publicly questioning if he made a mistake hiring Sessions as the attorney general. Trump on Wednesday took to Twitter about Sessions’ recusal in the Russian election meddling investigation.
To the point that the president could have picked someone else to be the attorney general, Trump tweeted, “And I wish I did!”