Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), the chairman of the influential House Rules Committee, told a social conservative activist who was pushing him to support the end of no-fault divorce that the way the family court system in Dallas used to process cases had led to some tragic consequences. To illustrate his point that the system had badly needed change, he used a baffling example.
“Dallas County, a few years ago, went through a number of terrible shootings. And I gathered together, they were at the time Republican district judges, and I said ‘guys, men, women, we’ve now had I think four or five shootings.’ One of them was from a big-time guy in Highland Park, who went and killed his wife, just gunned her down. And that was because the judge was unfair, and the woman was unfair. And she demanded something, and he was out. And it was frustration,” Sessions said during a local GOP event earlier this summer. “So now we go through the court system. And unfortunately lives have to be lost and there has to be tragedy — there now is a better system.”
It’s unclear what specific case Sessions is referring to in the video, filmed by local conservative activist Jeff Morgan at the Greater Garland Republican Organization on June 23. Sessions’ staff declined to name the specific case, though there were a number of domestic violence-related murders in the region around that time.
Sessions is facing his first real reelection battle in years against civil rights attorney and former NFL player Colin Allred, in a traditionally Republican district in suburban Dallas that Hillary Clinton carried with a narrow plurality in 2016.
Sessions’ spokeswoman said that the congressman didn’t mean to suggest any sympathy for the man in the case he cited, before highlighting his work to prevent domestic violence.
After the lawmaker’s comments were revealed, he quickly tried to backtrack. Sessions’ spokeswoman claimed that Sessions did not mean to blame the victim for her own murder. Sessions’ chief of staff Caroline Boothe said, “Pete was discussing a terrible situation where an individual felt he had been railroaded by a court and then committed a horrific act of violence. By no means does Pete condone any act such as this.”
Boothe said in a statement to Talking Points Memo, “In fact, Pete met with judges and court officials to encourage them to address the frailties in the system and to do more to prevent this kind of tragic family violence from occurring.”