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WHYY Interviews Professor Richard Frankel on Legal Scholars’ Opposition to Attorney General Nominee

Richard Frankel

January 10, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. attorney general would be unlikely to represent a large swath of the American people, Professor Richard Frankel said during an interview on WHYY’s Newsworks that aired on Jan. 9.

Frankel is among 1,424 professors from 180 law schools in 49 states who signed a letter opposing the appointment of Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

Sessions’ actions in the U.S. Senate and as a U.S. attorney reveal a disregard for civil rights, racial justice and immigrants’ rights, Frankel said.

“He’s taken some very extreme positions on a lot of these issues,” said Frankel, who is among 13 members of the Kline School of Law faculty who signed the letter, addressed to the leaders of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

The U.S. attorney general serves as the nation’s chief enforcer of laws, Frankel said, adding that  Sessions has sought to intimidate and disenfranchise African-American voters and adopted immigration positions that would permit detention of undocumented people without probable cause.

Going beyond the restrictions on Muslim immigrants that Trump has endorsed, Sessions has categorized people by nationality, Frankel said, citing a speech in which the former U.S. senator from Alabama said that “no one from the Dominican Republic has anything to offer this country.”

Frankel noted that students in the Appellate Litigation Clinic he directs are representing “a very upstanding member of our community” who came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic in 1989.

“We teach about social justice, about equality, about the values that our law is founded on,” Frankel said. “Our students are very concerned about civil rights issues.”