Department of Justice

DOJ and Houston senator take a stand for voting rights, against ID law

The US Department of Justice has officially objected to the Texas voter ID law. State Senator Rodney Ellis of Houston had urged such action.
PFAW Foundation

Letter to Sen. Harry Reid from Progressive Leaders on the Delay in Confirming Dawn Johnsen

Letter to Sen. Harry Reid from Progressive Leaders on the Delay in Confirming Dawn Johnsen

Senate Confirms Thomas Perez

The United States Senate today confirmed the nomination of Thomas Perez to be Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

Groups Deliver More than 140,000 Petitions to Impeach Bybee

People For the American Way and MoveOn.org Political Action today delivered more than 140,000 petitions to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers calling for the impeachment of Judge Jay Bybee for his role in trying to bend the law to justify the Bush administration's torture policies when he headed the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. After authoring memos explaining how prisoners could be tortured while skirting federal law, but before the memos became public, Bybee was confirmed to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Restore Justice Telebriefing with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

On Wednesday, April 22, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse joined People For the American Way’s members and activists for a telebriefing on the fight to confirm Dawn Johnsen, President Obama’s nominee to head the Office of Legal Counsel.

Kathleen Turner Phone Calls Support Confirmation of Dawn Johnsen

Residents of nine states will be receiving automated calls featuring the voice of actress Kathleen Turner supporting the confirmation of Dawn Johnsen. The calls urge constituents to call targeted Senators to demand that they support Johnsen, President Obama's nominee to lead the Office of Legal Counsel.

Kagan Confirmed as SG, Johnsen Moves to Senate Floor

The Senate today confirmed Elena Kagan as Solicitor General by a vote of 61 to 31. Earlier in the day, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to the Senate floor on a near party line vote. People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert issued the following statement: "The confirmation of Elena Kagan to be the nation's advocate before the Supreme Court is an historic step for women. Just over a century ago, women weren't allowed to practice law or vote — today's vote is a sign of how far we've come. But I was deeply disappointed to see so many members of the GOP put politics ahead of principle in opposing the nomination of Dawn Johnsen as head of the Office of Legal Counsel. Dawn Johnsen has the experience, the intellect, and the integrity to bring respectability back to the OLC, and her confirmation should be above petty politics."

Smear Job on David Ogden Comes up Short

The Senate is currently debating the nomination of David Ogden to be Obama’s Deputy Attorney General. That, in itself, is telling. Ogden was expected to sail through the confirmation process, but by last week there was talk of a full-on filibuster.

It’s not easy to disrupt the confirmation of a widely respected attorney with previous government experience and bipartisan backing. It takes big lies and a big megaphone. But the Religious Right and its Senate allies managed just fine.

To hear Senator Orrin Hatch talk about it, you’d think that Obama had actually nominated Larry Flynt to be Eric Holder’s deputy: “The pornography industry is excited about Mr. Ogden’s nomination.”

But that’s nothing. Here’s how the executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition summed up Ogden: “He will be a great ally for advocates for death and homosexuality inside the Justice Department.”

Bear in mind, they’re talking about a man who enjoys the backing of the National District Attorneys Association, National Association of Police Officers, Fraternal Order of Police, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and many others. He even won the support of Republican Senators Specter, Graham, and Kyl in committee.

Ogden’s right-wing antagonists don’t care about any of that. They’ve latched onto a handful of cases involving abortion and obscenity from his many years as a corporate lawyer and have distorted them beyond all recognition. Ogden, for instance, represented the American Library Association in its fight against overzealous internet filtering and the American Council for the Blind over whether the Library of Congress should make a Braille version of Playboy, as was the practice for other popular periodicals.

These cases had very real First Amendment implications. But never mind that. His old casework is enough for the Traditional Values Coalition to call him a “pro-pornography zealot.” Concerned Women for America has even speculated that his nomination might mean that the “United States will also fund the international production and distribution of pornography.”

These smears reached hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – of Americans via right-wing cable news, talk radio, and blogs. Senate conservatives took notice, hence the five ‘no’ votes in the committee and the grumbling about a filibuster. In fact, Senator Majority Leader Reid was forced to file cloture on the vote.

Ogden will surely be confirmed when the Senate finally votes on his nomination today (around 2 pm). But the outlandish rhetoric from the far right and the willingness by conservative Senators to play along are sure signs of what’s to come.

David Ogden Confirmed as Deputy Attorney General

Today the Senate voted 65-28 to confirm David Ogden as Deputy Attorney General. People For the American Way president Kathryn Kolbert said, "It's incredible to think that Senate Republicans considered filibustering David Ogden's nomination even for a second. Ogden is a widely respected attorney with previous Justice Department experience and bipartisan support. He is precisely the type of person we need at the helm of the Justice Department as it tackles the many challenges facing our nation.

DOJ Asserts State Secret Privilege

In response to the Department of Justice's assertion of "state secrets" privilege in the case Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen, PFAW President Kathryn Kolbert issued the following statement: "After we worked very hard to pave the way for Attorney General Holder's smooth confirmation, this decision to continue the Bush administration's position is extremely discouraging. During the campaign, President Obama pledged to reform the abuse of state secrets privilege, so this move is all the more disappointing."

Eric Holder Confirmed as Attorney General

By a vote of 75 to 21, the Senate today confirmed Eric Holder to the office of Attorney General. People For the American Way president Kathryn Kolbert issued the following statement: "Today's vote was an enormous step forward in our fight to restore the rule of law to the Department of Justice. Now it's time to get to work repairing the damage that has been done to the DOJ over the last eight years. Eric Holder has the integrity, the intelligence, and the independence to address the enormous challenges we face, and we look forward to working with him to ensure that our government stays true to the core constitutional values of equality and justice for all."

Holder Nomination Approved By Judiciary Committee

By a vote of 17 to 2, the Senate Judiciary Committee today overwhelmingly approved the nomination of Eric Holder to be Attorney General of the United States. The nomination will now go to the full Senate. People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert issued the following statement: "Eric Holder's nomination is heading to the floor with the strong bipartisan support of the Judiciary Committee, just as it should. After the last eight years, the reputation of the Department of Justice is in tatters, and it will take someone like Eric Holder to restore it. Holder's confirmation has been delayed long enough. The full Senate should quickly confirm this nomination so we can begin to restore justice to the DOJ."

Dozens of Advocacy Groups Line Up to Support Eric Holder

PFAW joined more than 65 religious, human rights, social and economic justice organizations in issuing a letter to the leaders of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, urging the Senate to confirm Eric Holder as Attorney General without delay. "The groundswell of support that Eric Holder has received is a testament to his unquestionable qualifications for this office," said PFAW President Kathryn Kolbert. The letter cites Holder's "integrity, independence, reputation, experience, judgment, inclusiveness, and temperament" in making their endorsement, calling Holder a "stellar nominee."

People For Statement on Justice Department Nominations

President-elect Barack Obama today announced a strong slate of nominees to fill critical Department of Justice positions including that of Elena Kagan, Dean of Harvard Law School, as Solicitor General of the United States. PFAW President Kathryn Kolbert issued the following statement: "Americans concerned with justice should be very pleased about today's nominations, including Elena Kagan to be Solicitor General. Kagan's legal skills are only matched by her commitment to the Constitutional values at the core of our nation. This announcement sends a clear message that the politicization of the Department of Justice is coming to an end. It's a great relief to know that our laws will again be enforced with honesty and integrity."

Holder: A Solid Pick for Attorney General

President-elect Barack Obama today announced his decision to nominate Eric Holder to be Attorney General in the new administration. People For the American Way president Kathryn Kolbert issued the following statement: "After so many years of scandal and mismanagement at the Justice Department, we’re happy to see Eric Holder nominated for the top job. The Department of Justice should be a vigorous advocate of the rule of law. Under the Bush administration, it has been used as an ideological bludgeon. It's going to take a great deal of work to restore the credibility and authority of the Department of Justice, especially the civil rights division. Eric Holder is a solid choice for the job."

Inspector General's Report Exposes Wrongdoing at DOJ

Responding to the Inspector General's report detailing the inappropriate actions surrounding the firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2005, People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert issued the following statement: "This report reemphasizes just how much the Department of Justice was allowed to decay under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Dedicated United States attorneys were shoved aside simply to further the political aims of the Bush Administration. That is as unacceptable today as it ever was."
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