Dawn Johnsen

  • August 5, 2009
    The Washington Post editorial board today urged the Senate to act on several of the Obama administration's nominations, including Indiana law school professor and former ACS Board of Directors member Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). The Post in "Nominations Roadblock," noted that Johnsen's nomination was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee almost five months ago, but remains mired in the Senate.

    The Post wrote:

    This is unconscionable. Ms. Johnsen is highly qualified for the OLC post: She served for several years as a top assistant in the office during the Clinton administration and has earned the respect of top OLC lawyers who worked for Republican and Democratic presidents. She should be confirmed, but her nomination has been held hostage mainly by Republicans who are using her strong pro-choice views as political fodder. It has not helped matters that Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has been less than assertive in pushing for a vote.

    The newspaper's editorial also noted that the Senate has stalled on confirming three of the administration's federal appeals court nominees.

  • May 13, 2009

    Roll Call reports:

    As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) moves to ease a backlog of executive branch nominations, he suggested on Tuesday that he does not have the votes to bring up President Barack Obama's pick to run the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel.

    "Right now we're finding out when to do that," Reid said, responding to a question about the status of Indiana University law professor Dawn Johnsen's nomination to the Justice post. "We need a couple Republican votes until we can get to 60."

    According to the Washington Monthly, "this is just ridiculous." [Emphasis and links theirs.]

    Let's also take a moment to note that Johnsen is an exceptional nominee, who is unquestionably qualified, and clearly deserves confirmation.

    That said, what kind of show is Harry Reid running here? His caucus has 59 members, and Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana, a conservative Republican, has already endorsed Johnsen's nomination. We have Democratic senators who won't even let the president's choice for the OLC get a vote because she's pro-choice?

    Firedoglake's Christy Hardin Smith is no less appalled

  • May 11, 2009
    The Los Angeles Times joins a growing number of newspapers to endorse President Obama's choice to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). In a May 11 editorial, the newspaper states:

    The irony is overwhelming, Republicans in the Senate are opposing - and may try to filibuster - President Obama's choice to head the Justice Department agency that during the Bush administration provided legal cover for the torture of suspected terrorists. Their argument: Indiana University law professor Dawn Johnsen is a partisan activist who would politicize the Office of Legal Counsel, which is charged with providing the executive branch with an objective analysis of existing law.

    Johnsen's nomination has also drawn the support of a group of former OLC directors. During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, Attorney General Eric Holder voiced renewed support for Johnsen, saying that securing her confirmation was a top priority. 

  • May 7, 2009
    Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, reiterated his support for Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). Holder told the committee that the OLC is being run by capable lawyers, but that getting Johnsen confirmed as OLC director was "probably my top priority."

    Johnsen, an Indiana University law professor and former member of the ACS Board of Directors, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in March, but her nomination has since been held up by opponents, who take issue with her criticism of some legal advice from the OLC during the Bush administration. Johnsen's nomination has garnered an array of support, including newspapers, a group of 70 legal scholars and former OLC directors. 

  • April 30, 2009

    The Washington Post has become the latest voice to join the broad array of observers supporting the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to lead the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). The Post joins a bi-partisan group of 70 legal scholars, former OLC directors appointed by Democrat and Republican presidents, the editorial board of The New York Times and Sen. Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.) in extolling Johnsen's qualifications for the position.

    The Post editorialized: 

    Ms. Johnsen is undoubtedly qualified for the position, and she should be confirmed.

    Ms. Johnsen's confirmation has been held up by Republicans concerned that she's an "ideologue," in the words of Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.). Ms. Johnsen's nomination squeaked by on a party-line vote before the Senate Judiciary Committee and has been stalled for the past month amid filibuster threats from some Republicans.

    Let's put aside, for the moment, the fact that the Justice Department under President Bush was perhaps the most politicized in a generation -- and that among the most warped sections of the Bush Justice Department was the OLC. It is nonetheless legitimate to ask whether Ms. Johnsen will behave as badly as some of her immediate predecessors.