Woman Convicted After Laughing During Jeff Sessions’ Confirmation Hearing

The Code Pink activist could face a year in prison.

Tom Williams/ZUMA

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Three women involved with the activist group Code Pink were convicted Wednesday on disruption charges after protesting Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate confirmation hearing in January. One of the women, Desiree Fairooz, was found guilty of “disorderly or disruptive” conduct after laughing at Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R-Ala.) claim that Sessions had a well-documented record of “treating all Americans equally under the law.”

Federal prosecutors said Fairooz’s laughing caused enough of a disruption to turn heads and divert attention from the hearing. They also accused her of provoking further disturbance when she protested her eventual ejection from the hearing.

The campaign director for Code Pink, Ariel Gold, who was sitting near Fairooz during the January 10 hearing, described the laughs as merely a “reflex” and said they were fainter than a cough. HuffPost‘s Ryan J. Reilly was also present at the hearing and recorded Fairooz’s removal:

The other two women convicted on Wednesday, Tighe Barry and Lenny Bianchi, were found guilty on “parading or demonstrating” charges after dressing in Ku Klux Klan robes for the hearing. The New York Times reports they were not convicted of the same disorderly conduct charge as Fairooz because they stood up in costume before the hearing officially began.

All three women pleaded not guilty to the charges. They face up to 12 months in prison each.

Sessions’ nomination to lead the Justice Department was highly contested. Critics claimed he had a history of racist comments and actions, including blocking black judges from serving in federal court and working to prevent black people from voting.

Update, 5/4: The headline has been updated to better reflect Desiree Fairooz’s conviction. 

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate