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Iowa, U.S. Legal Scholars Question Trump's A.G. Nomination

Over 1,200 law professors say as U.S. Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., would not promote justice and equality. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
Over 1,200 law professors say as U.S. Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., would not promote justice and equality. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
January 5, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Hundreds of legal scholars from almost every state, including Iowa, are objecting to the president-elect's choice of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., for U.S. Attorney General.

More than 1,200 law professors, including Paul Gowder, an associate professor of law at the University of Iowa, signed a letter urging Congress to reject the nomination, stating their belief that Sessions would not fairly enforce the law or promote justice and equality.

Gowder said his main concern is Sessions' record on voting rights.

"The man has long been understood as a opponent of the Voting Rights Act, a proponent of voter ID,” Gowder said. "Having him as attorney general would essentially tear down Martin Luther King Jr.'s greatest legacy. It's really shocking."

The letter mentions Sessions' 1985 prosecution as an attorney of three civil-rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama, and his continued opposition to policies promoting the rights of women and the LGBTQ community. A spokesperson for Sessions said the senator has dedicated his career to upholding the rule of law, ensuring public safety and prosecuting government corruption.

The Senate Judiciary Committee begins confirmation hearings next week.

In 1986, Sessions' nomination for a federal judgeship was rejected by the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee. Gowder said it was because of racially-insensitive comments Sessions had made.

"He claims, and his defenders have claimed, the evidence against him in that nomination was fairly weak,” Gowder said. "But even if that's the case - and I don't think it is - how hard is it to find a nominee for attorney general who doesn't have that plainly disqualifying piece of history?"

Professors from 176 law schools in 49 states signed the letter, which was sent on Tuesday - the same day six people were arrested during an NAACP protest sit-in at Sessions' office in Alabama.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IA