Can a person be prosecuted for laughing during a confirmation hearing? While many people may have no idea as this is the case, Desiree Fairooz has learnt it the hard way.
A report in the VOX says that United States’ Department of Justice is prosecuting a 61-year-old woman, Desiree Fairooz, for laughing during Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing.
The VOX report claims that Fairooz laughed at a claim that Sessions “treats all Americans equally”. This is something that looked very funny to the 61-year old activist and she started laughing.
Desiree Fairooz is a Code Pink activist who was arrested earlier this year in January after she laughed at a claim from Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) that Sessions’s history of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.”
VOX report says that Sessions on the other hand comes with a rather dubious record in this regard. “Sessions, in fact, has a long history of opposing the equal treatment of all Americans under the law. He has repeatedly criticized the historic Voting Rights Act. He voted against hate crime legislation that protected LGBTQ people, arguing, “Today, I’m not sure women or people with different sexual orientations face that kind of discrimination. I just don’t see it.” And his nomination for a position as a federal judge was rejected in the 1980s after he was accused of making racist remarks”, says the VOX report.
The most damaging case against him in this regard is that his nomination to the federal judiciary was shot down due to multiple allegations of racism, including one from a colleague who testified that Sessions once joked that he’d thought the KKK was okay until he learned some Klansmen smoked marijuana. It happened in early 80s. At the time, there were also allegations that Sessions had once referred to a black staff member as “boy,” called the NAACP “un-American,” and used criminal prosecutions thwart voting rights for black Alabamans.
While the laugh was meant to suggest that Sessions didn’t really had such a great past in this regard. Prosecutors argued that her “laugh amounted to willful ‘disorderly and disruptive conduct’ intended to ‘impede, disrupt, and disturb the orderly conduct’ of congressional proceedings.”
Fairooz, who has caught the imagination of the nation while refusing the inference said her laughter was merely a reflex, and not intended to disrupt the proceedings. Her defense also argued that Fairooz was in the back of the room and the laughter had no noticeable impact on the proceedings, based on video of the hearings.