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Law school professors challenge nomination

In this photo taken Nov. 17, 2016, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. speaks to media at Trump Tower in New York. President-elect Donald Trump has picked Sessions for the job of attorney general. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

In this photo taken Nov. 17, 2016, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. speaks to media at Trump Tower in New York. President-elect Donald Trump has picked Sessions forĀ  attorney general. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A handful of University of New Mexico law school professors have joined hundreds of their peers in protesting the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., as U.S. attorney general.

As reported by The Washington Post, about 1,100 professors in 170 schools in 48 states signed a letter protesting Sessions’ nomination. That letter also will be used in a full-page newspaper ad aimed at the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is to hold confirmation hearings for Sessions on Jan. 10 and 11. Sessions is President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for attorney general.

“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,” the letter read.

Among the professors’ criticisms of Sessions, they referenced a rejection of Sessions for a federal judgeship in 1986. They also listed what they said is Sessions’ prosecution of three civil rights activists in 1985 in Alabama, and “repeated opposition to legislative efforts to promote the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community.”

Sessions and his supporters, including Larry Thompson, a former U.S. deputy attorney general, have said he is not racist. He also has support from the National Sheriffs’ Association and the Fraternal Order of Police.

The letter includes faculty members from prestigious private schools, such as Yale and Stanford, and public institutions, such as UCLA and UNM. In total, 11 professors from UNM had added their name to the list as of Tuesday afternoon.

Margaret Montoya, an emerita professor of law at UNM, is one of those who signed locally. She said Sessions’ history is troubling and that he has been a “gleeful opponent of civil rights.” “What’s important about the attorney general is that that person has to be able to speak and be a unifier,” Montoya said. “I don’t see that Jeff Sessions has any of those inclinations.”

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