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Law Professors Want Sessions’ Nomination as AG Dumped

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By Frederick H. Lowe

Some 1330 law professors from 178 law schools in 49 states on Thursday petitioned Sen. Charles E. Grassley, (R., Iowa), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Dianne G. Feinstein, (D., Calif.), a senior Judiciary Committee member, to reject the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (D., AL.) for U. S. Attorney General. Sessions is a committee member.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on Sessions’ nomination for 9:30 a.m. January 10-11 in room 325 of the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The committee has 20 members–nine Democrats and 11 Republicans.

Opposition to Sessions, Alabama’s junior U.S. Senator, has been building since he was nominated U. S. Attorney General by President-elect Donald Trump.

The law professors took aim at Sessions’ nomination based on his history.

“In 1986, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, in a bipartisan vote, rejected  President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of then-U. S. Attorney Sessions for a federal judgeship, due to statements Sessions had made that reflected prejudice against African Americans. Nothing in 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 petition said.

NAACP Sit In

The petition follows the peaceful occupation on Tuesday in Sessions’ Mobile, Ala., office by members  of the  National NAACP based in Baltimore.

NAACP sit in Sen. Jeff Sessions' office. Cornell Brooks is sitting in the front.
NAACP sit in Sen. Jeff Sessions’ office. Cornell Brooks is sitting in the front on the right.

Cornell Brooks, the organization’s president and five others were handcuffed and arrested. Police charged them second-degree criminal trespass, a misdemeanor. Brooks said in a newspaper interview the NAACP is determined to block Sessions’ confirmation because he will set back police community relations. Local branches of the NAACP also held press conferences outside of Sessions’ offices in Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery and Dothan.

Deval Patrick Blasts Sessions

Deval Patrick, former two-term Governor of Massachusetts who served from 2007 to 2015, said Sessions should be disqualified as Attorney General, the nation’s top law enforcement post.

When Sessions was serving as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, he attempted to prosecute three black civil rights workers for helping poor and uneducated blacks to vote, Patrick told MassLive. Com,  a local news station.

Patrick, who worked on the case as a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said a jury threw out the case after a few hours.

Former Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick
Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick

A spokesman for Sessions supports the law although in 1986, he admitted calling the 1965 Voting Rights Act “instructive legislation.”

A Thumbs Down

In their petition, the law professors mentioned Sessions’ prosecution of the civil rights workers and other concerns.

“Some of us have concerns about his consistent promotion of the myth of voter-impersonation fraud,” the petition said. “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. We urge you to reject his nomination.”

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