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1,226 Law Professors Tell Congress to Dump Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions

The nation's top legal minds, citing the Republican senator's poor record on civil rights, say he is an "unacceptable" option for attorney general.


Law professors have an instruction for Congress: Do not confirm Alabama senator Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general.

In a petition published Tuesday, 1,226 professors from 176 different law schools in 49 states are urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the Republican politician as head the Department of Justice.

These top legal minds -- which include Harvard Law School's Laurence H. Tribe, Stanford University's Janet Cooper Alexander, and Yale Law School's Harold Hongju Koh -- point to the senator's problematic history with civil rights as evidence that he is "unacceptable" for the post.

Notably, Sessions was rejected from a federal judgeship in 1986 due to alleged racist remarks. In present day, this group has seen no evidence that he has changed his views.

"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," read the petition, which referenced Sessions's "misguided prosecution" of civil rights activists, his history of denying climate change, and his "repeated opposition to legislative efforts to promote the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community" as other points of concern.

The letter will also run as a full newspaper ad before the confirmation hearings, which will be held January 10-11, The Washington Post reports.

Six members of the NAACP, including its president, Cornell W. Brooks, also raised their voices against Sessions on Tuesday. The group was arrested for staging a sit-in in Sessions's office in Mobile, Ala., in protest of his nomination.

"We are asking the senator to withdraw his name for consideration as attorney general or for the President-elect, Donald Trump, to withdraw the nomination," said Brooks, according to CNN.

Sessions, who was nominated by President-elect Donald Trump for the post in November, has a lengthy anti-LGBT record. He voted to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage; spoke out against the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling; voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; is a cosponsor of the so-called First Amendment Defense Act, which would allow discrimination against LGBT people and others in the name of "religious freedom"; voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded the federal definition of hate crimes to include those based on sexual orientation, gender, and disability; and voted against repealing "don't ask, don't tell."

Sessions also opposed the Voting Rights Act, has voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, and opposes immigration reform. In 1986, when he was a U.S. attorney in Alabama and was being considered for a federal judgeship, he was dogged by accusations of racism, with former colleagues saying he used the n word and joked that he had no problem with the Ku Klux Klan "until he learned that they smoked marijuana," The Washington Post reports. Sessions denied that he was racist.

Sarah Flores, a spokesperson for Sessions, recently defended the politician against "false portrayals" of racism 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," she said. "These false portrayals of Sen. Sessions will fail as tired, recycled, hyperbolic charges that have been thoroughly rebuked and discredited."

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.