Bench Memos

Scrambled Eggheads Against Jeff Sessions

In a turn of events that will surprise exactly nobody, a group of liberal law professors is circulating a letter arguing that Senator Jeff Sessions shouldn’t be confirmed as Attorney General. It turns out that some of them aren’t exactly the academy’s brightest luminaries. Several of the signatories signed onto another letter earlier this year asserting the silly claim that the Senate had a “constitutional duty” to hold a hearing and a vote on Merrick Garland’s nomination. For the record, some of those not-so-leading lights are: Allie Robbins, Angela Davis, Beth Lyon, Beverly Balos, Doug Colbert, Elliot Milstein, Kathy Hessler, Margaret E. Johnson, Nancy Levit, Nancy Abramowitz, Peter Edelman, Phyllis Goldfarb, Stephen Wizner, Susan Bryant, Suzianne Painter-Thorne, and Verna Williams.  (The list is being actively updated so there may be more.)

The authors are also engaging in a bit of grade inflation on their numbers. At least 50 of the signatories are clinical or adjunct faculty, which means that they’re effectively practitioners, not law professors who spend their days in the ivory tower looking for profound legal insights.

We should note that numerous other lawyers and law enforcement officials have already declared their support for the Sessions nomination, ranging from former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson to the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys and Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

Of course, it’s no secret that legal academia is overwhelmingly liberal. Professor Nick Rosenkranz noted in a 2015 article that only three out of 120 professors at Georgetown’s law school were willing to openly describe themselves as conservative, libertarian, or Republican. Likewise, James Lindgren’s 2013 study showed that 82% of professors gave political contributions to Democrats and only 15% gave to Republicans. With the amount of left-wing vitriol currently being directed at the incoming administration, I’m a little surprised that they didn’t get more professors on board.