'Unacceptable Record': Over 1100 Law Professors Pound Trump's AG Pick With Defiant Letter

‘Unacceptable Record’: Over 1100 Law Professors Pound Trump’s AG Pick With Defiant Letter

Trump’s Attorney General Pick Is Becoming A Lightning Rod

Donald Trump’s pick for the next Attorney General of the United States is Jefferson Bureaugard Sessions III, named after the president of the Confederacy and a Confederate general. Sessions was the first US Senator to endorse Trump in the campaign. Sessions has been US Senator from Alabama for 20 years, and is considered one of the most conservative US Senators. His nomination is generating a growing backlash. On Monday, an astounding 1140 US law professors from around the country signed a letter condemning Sessions as an “unacceptable.”

Addressing the letter to Chuck Grassley and Diane Feinstein, the leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the law professors wrote,

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 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.

Some of us have concerns about his misguided prosecution of three civil rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in 1985, and his consistent promotion of the myth of voter-impersonation fraud. Some of us have concerns about his support for building a wall along our country’s southern border. Some of us have concerns about his robust support for regressive drug policies that have fueled mass incarceration. Some of us have concerns about his questioning of the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change. Some of us have concerns about his repeated opposition to legislative efforts to promote the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community. Some of us share all of these concerns.

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

The Attorney General is the top law enforcement officer in the United States, with broad jurisdiction and prosecutorial discretion, which means that, if confirmed, Jeff Sessions would be responsible for the enforcement of the nation’s civil rights, voting, immigration, environmental, employment, national security, surveillance, antitrust, and housing laws.

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.

As the letter states, Sessions was vetted and rejected by the Senate for a federal judgeship in 1986. The opposition to his appointment focused on a 1984 case in which a team of lawyers under Sessions’ direction prosecuted three black civil rights activists, who came to be known as the “Marion Three.” The defendants faced decades in prison for allegedly tampering with absentee ballots in predominantly poor, rural, black counties. Sessions’ prosecution tried to define helping disabled and illiterate people fill out a ballot as voter fraud. The jury acquitted all three defendants on all charges.

That case has defined Sessions ever since. His zealous prosecution of voting rights activists was considered politically radioactive in 1986. Now, in 2017, following Trump’s campaign that trampled decades of racial progress, Sessions is cruising toward becoming the nation’s highest law enforcement officer.

Beyond the letter, opposition to Sessions has been expanding and intensifying. Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People were occupying Sessions’s Mobile, Alabama office in protest, Reuters reported Tuesday. They vowed to stay in his office until Sessions withdrew his nomination or they were arrested. The NAACP’s president explained the action,

“Senator Sessions has callously ignored the reality of voter suppression but zealously prosecuted innocent civil rights leaders on trumped-up charges of voter fraud,” NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks said in a news release. “As an opponent of the vote, he can’t be trusted to be the chief law enforcement officer for voting rights.”

Trump has nominated the richest Cabinet in American history, with 17 picks whose combined wealth is greater than one-third of all American households. The Cabinet is shaping up to be a privatization machine, gutting everything from public schools to healthcare to national parks. There are reasons to protest virtually all of them. But given his history, perhaps none of them poses quite such a direct threat as Sessions does to the voting rights of black people. His nomination is an implicit threat to repeal nearly a century of civil rights and voting rights progress for black Americans.

Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Marc Belisle is the Reverb Press World Affairs Editor. He is a writer, activist and teacher. He has a Master’s degree in International Conflict Analysis from the Brussels School of International Studies. READ MORE BY MARC.

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Marc Belisle is the Reverb Press World Affairs Editor. He is a writer, activist and teacher. He has a Master’s degree in International Conflict Analysis from the Brussels School of International Studies. READ MORE BY MARC.

ReverbPress Mobile Apps ReverbPress iOS App ReverbPress Android App ReverbPress App