More than 1,100 law professors are urging the Senate to reject the nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to serve as attorney general in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, USA Today reports. The group, from 170 law schools in 48 states, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Republican senator would “not fairly enforce our nation’s laws and promote justice and equality in the United States.” Professors, including Harvard’s Laurence Tribe and University of California-Irvine’s Erwin Chemerinsky, cited the Senate’s 1986 rejection of Sessions’ nomination for a federal judgeship, due in part to Sessions’ past, racially charged statements.
“Nothing in Sen. Sessions’ public life since 1986 has convinced us that he is a different man than the 39-year-old attorney who was deemed to racially insensitive to be a federal district court judge,” the professors’ petition states. During his Senate hearing in 1986, Sessions was grilled about a number of remarks, including one in which Sessions referred to the Ku Klux Klan as “okay until I found out they smoked pot.” Sessions is scheduled to appear before the Judiciary Committee for confirmation hearings next week. Sessions’ spokeswoman Sarah Flores called the criticism “business as usual for the same far-left academics who trot out letters opposing just about any conservative or Republican who’s nominated to a key position by a Republican president.”