Following up on last week's post, Tax Profs Join Over 1,300 1,400 Law Profs In Opposing Jeff Sessions For Attorney General:
Stephen B. Presser (Northwestern), Sen. Sessions and the Smug Self-Satisfaction of the Law Professoriate (Chicago Tribune):
The first striking thing about the recent letter signed by 1,100 law professors urging the U.S. Senate not to confirm attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is its extraordinary arrogance and presumption. ...
The exaggerated self-importance of the teacher of law is buttressed by immersion in an ideology very different from what most senators and most Americans believe about the law in particular and the world in general. It is strongest in the elite bastions of the Ivy League and on the coasts, where most American law professors trained. Now, one can find it dispersed in most of our centers of legal education. ...
It is time for law professors to emerge from the smugness and self-delusion in which they have been mired for some time, and to recommit themselves to the noble task of teaching the law as a repository of timeless truths, as something above politics, and certainly above character assassination.
Michael I. Krauss (George Mason), The Law Professors' Scandalous Statement Against Jeff Sessions (Forbes):
One of my main goals as a professor of legal ethics is to try to show my students, through my teaching and scholarship, that officers of the court should be pondered and serious. We should not engage in casual character assassination. We should not become partisan hacks.
In that capacity, I regret having to conclude that the statement shames me as a law professor.
The statement is little more than a diatribe of charges against Sessions, many of which have nothing to do with his ability to execute the functions of the office to which he has been nominated. ...
Character assassination is so unworthy of our profession — what an awful example to set for the budding lawyers who are our students! The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit “conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.” I contend that the law professors’ statement, which condemns Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions based on irrelevancies and innuendoes, is just that.
Scott Douglas Gerber (Ohio Northern), The Law Professors Versus Sen. Jeff Sessions (Cleveland Plain Dealer):
[T]his is not the first time that leftist law professors have tried to influence Congress with preposterous arguments. ... Fortunately, there have been a few brave law professors who have publicly condemned the letter from the law professors smearing Sen. Sessions. ...
As the media have been reporting for several years now, America's law schools are in serious financial trouble because not enough students are applying for admission. Lobbying Congress in such transparently partisan terms as my leftist colleagues are prone to do — Sessions is a Republican, so he must be evil; Bill Clinton is a Democrat, so it was OK for him to commit perjury — only makes us look worse to prospective students. It's time to start behaving like professors again.
James Huffman (Dean Emeritus, Lewis & Clark), Law Professors Don’t Like Jeff Sessions Because They Are Liberals (Daily Caller):
The point of a petition from 1226 law professors, as opposed to a petition from 1226 random Democrats, is that law professors purport to bring the gravitas of special knowledge and expertise, not partisanship, to the confirmation process. This petition does not. Beyond reference to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s 1986 rejection of Sessions’ nomination to the federal district court, the law professors’ petition speaks only to political disagreements relating to immigration, drug policies, climate change and “the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community.” The law professors, many of whom have objected in the past that judicial nominees should not be disqualified based on the parties they have represented as lawyers, are here objecting to Sessions on the basis of policy positions he has taken as a United States senator on behalf of his constituents. They offer no evidence that Sessions would fail to fulfill the responsibilities of the office for which he has been nominated.
Of course law professors, like everyone else, have every right to engage in the politics of political appointments. But I would encourage my fellow law professors to do so in their capacity as citizens, not under the pretense of having objective views that warrant special attention – or even trump the mere political views of others.