1,330 Law Professors Oppose Jeff Sessions as AG Nominee

"All of us believe it is unacceptable for someone with Senator Sessions' record to lead the Department of Justice."

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions / REUTERS

A coalition of 1,330 law professors signed a letter urging members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as United States Attorney General for President-elect Donald Trump.

“As law faculty who work every day to better understand the law and teach it to our students, we are convinced that Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation’s laws and promote justice and equality in the United States,” the letter states.

The signers, representing 177 law schools from 49 states, addressed the letter to Chairman Charles Grassley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a ranking member of the committee. The professors address a wide range of concerns, including Sessions’ history of racist rhetoric, his views on women’s rights, his promotion of the debunked voter fraud myth, his anti-LGBT positions, his stance on building a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border and his policies on drugs that perpetuate mass incarceration.

“Some of us share all of these concerns,” the letter reads.

Specifically, the letter points to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 1986 (at which time the Senate was controlled by Republicans) when Sessions was rejected to be a district judge in Alabama. He was the second judge to be rejected in 48 years — and his inflammatory racist comments and remarks were what cost him the position.

“Nothing in Senator Sessions’ public life since 1986 has convinced us that he is a different man than the 39-year-old attorney who was deemed too racially insensitive to be a federal district court judge,” the lawyers write.

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Alabama Sen. Sessions previously lost a federal judge nomination due to his racist positions and remarks.

Sessions referred to a white civil rights lawyer as a “disgrace to his race” for taking on voting rights cases. He also called the Voting Rights Act (VRA) a “piece of intrusive legislation.” Further, Sessions referred to civil rights groups the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the NAACP as “un-American.” He also once said he thought members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) “were okay until I found out they smoked pot.” Additionally, Thomas H. Figures, an African American who was a federal prosecutor at the time, said Sessions once called him “boy.”

The committee’s confirmation hearings for Sessions are scheduled for January 10 and 11.

On Wednesday, three former Justice Department civil rights lawyers penned an op-ed for The Washington Post slamming Sessions’ recent claims that he has worked extensively on civil rights cases.

In a questionnaire for the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions claimed he “personally” litigated three voting rights cases and one school desegregation case. When met with backlash for this claim, he said he gave “assistance and guidance” for the cases.

However, the former lawyers worked in the division that handled the lawsuits and said Sessions contributed “no substantive involvement” to them.

“He did what any U.S. attorney would have had to do: He signed his name on the complaint, and we added his name on any motions or briefs. That’s it,” the article reads.

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Public opposition of Sessions’ nomination has been growing since Trump’s decision in November. On Wednesday, CNN contributor Angela Rye and William Smith, who worked with Sessions for two decades and served on the Senate Judiciary Committee led by Sessions, got in an on-air argument over Sessions’ history of racism.

“I don’t know if Jeff Sessions is a racist,” she said. “I don’t know if he is a bigot. I gave you the fruit. I know one thing. We know a tree by the fruit it bears. So you can call it what you want to.”

“Because you are the one Black guy that he hired on the committee doesn’t make him a civil rights leader, William,” she added.

Smith had previously said those who oppose Sessions are spreading “false rumors” because “they don’t like [Sessions’] policies.”

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Civil rights activists arrested protesting Trump's Attorney General pick

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Cornell Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP, was among those arrested.

On Tuesday, six civil rights activists were arrested for occupying Sessions’ Alabama office in protest of his nomination. The protesters arrested included Cornell Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP; Stephen Green, national director of the youth division of the NAACP; and Benard Simelton, president of the NAACP’s Alabama state conference.

“Senator Sessions has callously ignored the reality of voter suppression but zealously prosecuted innocent civil rights leaders on trumped-up charges of voter fraud,” Brooks said in a news release. The NAACP has previously called Sessions’ nomination “despicable and unacceptable.”

Sarah Isgur Flores, a spokeswoman for Sessions, said in a statement, “Many African American leaders who’ve known him for decades attest to this and have welcomed his nomination to be the next Attorney General.”

Read more news @ DiversityInc.com

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7 comments


  • It is annoying to hear Trump supporters act like people disapprove of his picks because of partisan politics. Not the case at all. Our financial system and national security are at stake here. Just odd that most republicans don’t see that..

  • I notice S I Flores, Sessions’ spokesperson didn’t name even one of the “Many African American leaders…have welcomed his (Sessions’) nomination to be the next Attorney General.”

  • Let’s hope Sessions is not confirmed by the committee. But, given the current climate of racial regression, chaos and bias, I would not be surprised if he gets voted in. The next 4 years are going to put a strain on everyone. Stay vigilant!

  • Unfortunately DiversityInc chooses to ignore the overwhelming and substantial support of Civil Rights that Senator Sessions has supported over the course of his entire career. Rather, they chose to publish articles that fall in line with HRC’s deplorable and irredeemable Trump supporters that led to her defeat. I choose to view the entirety of the person rather than the focus on negativity of decades ago. Even the son of the couple who were prosecuted by Sessions for voter fraud supports him stating he was just doing his job. DiversityInc better start listening to understand the other side or they will supporting losing candidates for years to come.

    • Could you possibly be that out of touch? Or is this sarcasm?

      By the way, Clinton won the popular vote by 2.7 million votes and lost three states by less than one percent. This despite being an incompetent candidate. She did not motivate her base, which is overwhelmingly the majority of this country – 10% fewer Democrats voted than four years ago, and there are more Democrats than there were four years ago. If Clinton had been as good as Bernie, or had she simply disclosed 100% of those emails 3 years ago, or if she kept her creepy husband out of the picture and fired her trusted advisor who happens to be married to a pervert, it would’ve been a landslide. But, as I said, she was incompetent, making one bad decision after another.

      Speaking of bad decisions, we are already seeing the president elect losing control of Congress over this issue of potential collusion with the Russians and their interference with our election. I’m sniffing Watergate times 100. You don’t grab Admiral Rogers’ or General Clapper’s pussy without them grabbing back.

      Attempting to appoint a divicive character like Senator Sessions to be Attorney General (after recent technology has uncovered the incredibly biased law-enforcement in our country – biased by race) is the hallmark of a bully – it might work here (to the long-term detriment of the Republican Party) but over the course of time, President elect Twitter is going to cause his own downfall.

      I give it 18 months.

    • DiversityInc has not ignored Sen. Sessions’ record on civil rights.

      As we reported last month, Sessions has voted in favor of a constitutional ban on gay marriage; against repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; against the Hate Crimes Prevention Act; and against an amendment to expand the definition of hate crimes to include gender, sexual orientation and disability. He has also voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, has opposed the Voting Rights Act and is opposed to immigration reform. He also once referred to a white civil rights lawyer as a “disgrace to his race” for taking on voting rights cases.

      This is Sessions’ record beyond his racist past from “decades ago.” It doesn’t really qualify as “overwhelming and substantial support of civil rights” as you claim.

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