It sure didn’t take long for Republican criticism of President-elect Obama’s high-level Justice Department appointments to heat up. Yesterday, the soon-to-be-president announced that he has selected David Ogden, Elena Kagan, Thomas Perrelli and Dawn Johnsen to fill the posts of deputy attorney general, solicitor general, associate attorney general and assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel respectively.
While Democrats and progressives around the country hailed the appointments as proof that President-elect Obama is serious about restoring the rule of law to the ailing department, conservatives wasted no time in lambasting them.
According to an article in the Washington Times, anti-choice activists were furious with the president-elect’s selection of Thomas Perrelli as associate attorney general. It seems that his involvement in the 2005 Terri Schiavo case is still enough to draw the ire of social conservatives.
The always mellow Andrea Lafferty of the Tradition Values Coalition dismissed Perrelli’s legal acumen suggesting that he is nothing more than a “death-peddler” and Family Research Council’s Tom McClusky was concerned that he wouldn’t intervene in states where issues like Schiavo’s arise. Of course, many would argue that it is not the place of the Justice Department to intervene in matters such as these, but we’ll move on.
But the nominee receiving the brunt of the right’s criticism is Ms. Johnsen. Having been a vocal opponent of the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation policies, many conservatives are now using that as a reason to oppose her nomination.
Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith (R-TX) said that her position on interrogation policies “raises significant concerns…[for] the intelligence community’s ability to conduct interrogations and gather critical, time-sensitive intelligence to prevent terrorist attacks.” Who knew that respect for the Constitution and international norms on torture could disqualify you for a position in the Justice Department in the eyes of some. It’s certainly been a long and strange eight years.