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Thursday, February 4, 2010

American Idle: Dawn Johnsen committee vote delayed

On February 4, the Senate Judiciary Committee had scheduled a vote on Dawn Johnsen, nominee to head the Office of Legal Counsel, but the vote never happened. After spending more than an hour considering other nominees also scheduled for votes, the committee ended its meeting because a number of senators had to leave to attend to other business, causing the committee to lose the quorum necessary to hold votes.

Johnsen is supremely well-qualified. Before a distinguished career as a Constitutional law professor, Johnsen served as acting head of the OLC for a full year during the Clinton administration. Her performance in this role was so exemplary that it was lauded by Republican-appointed Doug Kmiec, head of the OLC under presidents Reagan and Bush senior. Kmiec praised Johnsen’s independent judgment, saying that she “repeatedly separated policy preference from rendered opinion.” Johnsen also has the support of her Republican home state senator. Despite outstanding qualifications and recommendations, Johnsen’s nomination has sat idle in the Senate, requiring a second nomination by President Obama. Hopefully, with the support of Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Arlen Spector (D-PA), Johnsen’s confirmation vote will be able to successfully move past a legislative quagmire.

It is past time that Republicans in the Senate stopped reducing judicial and executive nominations into a partisan, ideological battlefield. The American people deserve a fully functional government that can ensure adherence to the rule of law. A proper OLC director with integrity and good judgment is crucial to that end. The office is routinely called upon to draw fine distinctions in the potential legality of proposed policies and executive orders, to ensure that the President follows established law. After gross misconduct of OLC attorneys in recent years, the OLC would be well served by a director with the experience, integrity, and intellect of Dawn Johnsen.

2 comments:

Kat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kat said...

Ms. Johnsen has been poised to do the job President Obama selected her to do. Yet, hers remains one of SEVENTY appointments being held up by GOP filibuster. The Party of NO needs a diaper change!