Sessions had been accused of being racially insensitive in the past. A Senate committee denied him a federal judgeship in 1986 after some colleagues said he used racial slurs and joked about the Ku Klux Klan.
The Justice Department defended Session’s comments, explaining that the term “Anglo-American law” is one commonly used in the legal system.
“As most law students learn in the first week of their first year, Anglo-American law — also known as the common law — is a shared legal heritage between England and America. The sheriff is unique to that shared legal heritage," Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior said in a statement. "Before reporters sloppily imply nefarious meaning behind the term, we would suggest that they read any number of the Supreme Court opinions that use the term. Or they could simply put ‘Anglo-American law’ into Google.”
What is Anglo-American law? The Encyclopedia Britannica explains it as "the body of customary law based upon judicial decisions and embodied in reports of decided cases that has been administered by the common-law courts of England since the Middle Ages."
In other words, it is the administration of the law based on previous decisions made by judges. Anglo-American refers to things that are made up of influences from Britain and from the United States. Every state in the union uses common law with the exception of Louisiana. Louisiana’s legal system is based on civil code, meaning they are derived from direct interpretation of laws made by legislatures.
The Washington Post pointed out that the term has been commonly used by Supreme Court justices.