President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to be the new attorney general is poised to get a rough ride as he appears before US senators.
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, 69, will face questions about his past record on civil rights at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
Senate Democrats will also challenge him over his tough immigration stance.
But they do not have the power to block his nomination because Republicans control the Senate.
The attorney general, America’s top prosecutor, leads the US justice department and acts as the main adviser to the president on legal issues.
All the president’s Cabinet appointments go to a vote in the Senate, where they can be approved by a simple majority.
Appointments cannot be confirmed until after Mr Trump’s inauguration on 20 January.
In his opening statement released before the hearing, Mr Sessions was to say the office of attorney general “is not a political position” and anyone who holds it must be faithful to laws and the US constitution.
The Alabama senator was to say he understands the history of civil rights “and the horrendous impact that relentless and systemic discrimination and the denial of voting rights has had on our African-American brothers and sisters”.
Why is Jeff Sessions a controversial choice?
The Alabama politician, with 20 years under his belt in the Senate, is known as one of the most conservative members of the upper chamber.
He was denied a federal judgeship in 1986 after the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony that he made racist remarks.
Mr Sessions was also accused of calling a black assistant US attorney “boy” and telling him to be careful about how he spoke to “white folks”. But he denied he said it.
He did admit saying the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was “un-American” and “communist-inspired”.
But Republicans who have known him a long time and worked with him deny Mr Sessions is a racist. Some have pointed out he supported the award of a Congressional Gold Medal to civil rights heroine Rosa Parks.