By Sari Horwitz , Washington Post
A group of more than 1,100 law school professors from across the country is sending a letter to Congress on Tuesday urging the Senate to reject the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for attorney general.
The letter, signed by professors from 170 law schools in 48 states, is also scheduled to run as a full-page newspaper ad aimed at members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will be holding confirmation hearings for Sessions on Jan. 10-11.
“We are convinced that Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation’s laws and promote justice and equality in the United States,” states the letter, signed by prominent legal scholars including Laurence H. Tribe of Harvard Law School, Geoffrey R. Stone of the University of Chicago Law School, Pamela S. Karlan of Stanford Law School and Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California at Irvine School of The professors — from every state except North Dakota and Alaska, which has no law school.
The letter highlights the rejection of Sessions’s nomination to a federal judgeship more than 30 years ago. Robin Walker Sterling of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, one of the organizers of the letter, said that 1,000 professors signed on within 72 hours. “Clearly, there are many, many law professors who are very uneasy with the prospect of Attorney General Sessions, and they are willing to take a public stand in opposition to his nomination,” she said.
The law professors wrote that some of them have concerns about Sessions’s prosecution of three civil rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in 1985, his support for building a wall along the nation’s southern border and his “repeated opposition to legislative efforts to promote the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community.”
“Nothing in Senator Sessions’ public life since 1986,” the letter states, “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.”
Sessions’s former chief counsel William Smith, who is African American, has said that people who call Sessions racially insensitive are “just lying. And they should stop the smear campaign.”
“The people making these allegations against Senator Sessions don’t know him,” Smith said in an interview. “In the last 30 years, they probably haven’t spent 10 hours with him. I spent 10 years working with him . . . as his top legal adviser. There are not statements that he made that are inappropriate.”
Allegations of racial insensitivity were made against Sessions at a 1986 Senate hearing when he was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to be a federal judge. His nomination was defeated after being opposed by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, People for the American Way and the NAACP, which is now protesting his nomination for attorney general, calling it “despicable and unacceptable.”