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Jeff Sessions chuckles about the 1,400 law professors whining about his nomination

Law student slams their statement as ‘personal belief’ and not ‘well reasoned’

If laughter is the best medicine, then Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions will have a healthy stint as attorney general in the Trump administration.

On a break from his first Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing Tuesday, the nominee “shared a laugh” with his Republican Senate colleague Lindsey Graham about the 1,400-plus law professors who signed a statement against his nomination, Inside Higher Ed reports:

“We’re about to get an answer to the age-old question ‘Can you be confirmed attorney general of the United States over the objection of 1,400 law professors?’” Graham said. “I don’t know what the betting line in Vegas is, but I like your chances.”

Since his federal judgeship was derailed in 1986 over disputed claims of how he treated black people, the professors wrote,

Nothing in Senator Sessions’ public life … 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. …

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.

The letter says its signatories teach at 180 law schools in 49 states. Among elite institutions:

18 teach at Harvard, including President Barack Obama’s mentor Laurence Tribe

26 at Stanford, including Michele Dauber, the leader of an effort to punish a judge for a light sentence against a Stanford student convicted of sexual assault

17 at Yale

22 at the University of Chicago

It’s not just Graham and Sessions who responded to the letter with an eye roll.

Writing at The American Thinker, Antonin Scalia Law School student Thomas Wheatley notes how broadly and vaguely it’s written (the repeated use of “some of us”): Its most concrete complaint – the voter-fraud prosecution – ignores that a “predominantly black constituency” asked for the federal investigation.

Wheatley guesses the statement is so “equivocal” because it’s “not the product of a well reasoned legal analysis”:

The devil is always in the details; if the professors were more explicit in their allegations, their seemingly obvious moral assertions would become less universal, exposing the statement’s underlying bias.  The statement could no longer masquerade as an opinion on a question of law to which society owes professors of law a special deference; instead, it would be a personal belief, to which society owes nothing.

Students of these professors should be extremely wary.  It takes a seasoned coward to hide a fallible personal conviction behind an intimidating title like “Professor of Law,” and if these professors are comfortable doing so in a public forum, there is little doubt they are comfortable doing so in the relative privacy of the classroom.

Read Inside Higher Ed, the professors’ letter and Wheatley’s post.

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IMAGE: Can We Take a Joke? screenshot, Brad McPherson/Shutterstock

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