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Nebraska Law Prof: Career Politician Shouldn't be Attorney General

More than 1,200 law professors say as U.S. attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., would not promote justice and equality. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
More than 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

LINCOLN, Neb. – Hundreds of legal scholars from almost every state, including Nebraska, 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 Eric Berger at the University of Nebraska, have signed a letter urging Congress to reject the nomination and stating their belief that Sessions would not fairly enforce the law or promote justice and equality.

Berger said he personally takes issue with the idea of a career politician leading the Department of Justice.

"The Department of Justice runs better when it's run by a career lawyer rather than a career politician,” Berger said. "A career politician is more likely to politicize the department and make decisions based on political motivations rather than legal motivations."

Sessions' background includes more than 10 years as an attorney, two years as Alabama's attorney general, and four terms as a U.S. senator. A spokesperson 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.

The letter mentions Sessions' 1985 prosecution 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.

Berger said they are somewhat troubling issues.

"I say 'somewhat' because I think people do have the capacity to change, and it's impossible to know what Sen. Sessions would do if he were attorney general,” he said. "But I think for people concerned about those issues, his stance on them in the past certainly raises questions."

In 1986, Sessions' nomination for a federal judgeship was rejected by the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee due to racially insensitive comments Sessions had made. Sessions denies having made the comments.

Professors from 176 law schools in 49 states signed the letter.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NE