People For the American Way

Dawn Johnsen Nomination Withdrawn


Contact: Drew Courtney or Josh Glasstetter at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

Dawn Johnsen, President Obama’s pick to lead the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) withdrew her nomination for the position today.  Professor Johnsen was nominated more than a year ago and was twice approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but never received a vote by the full Senate.

Marge Baker, Executive Vice President at People For the American Way, issued the following statement.

“This is deeply disappointing and a clear defeat for the rule of law.  Dawn Johnsen is eminently qualified to lead the Office of Legal Counsel, and would have served the nation well.

“Professor Johnsen received support from across the ideological spectrum, including endorsements from officials representing every Presidential administration since Gerald Ford’s.  She had the bipartisan support from her home state senators, and even served as acting head of the OLC under President Clinton, but Republicans were able to block her nomination simply by declaring it to be controversial.

“Dawn Johnsen’s only offenses were to stand up against illegal torture under the Bush administration and to defend a woman’s right to choose.  Her criticisms of the Bush-era OLC have been echoed by legal scholars of both parties and by the Justice Department’s own internal investigations.  And a belief in the Constitutional right to reproductive freedom isn’t just mainstream: it’s the law of the land.

“There was never any serious question that Professor Johnsen had the intellect, the experience and the integrity for this position.  Especially when nominees face the kind of baseless attacks that were leveled at Dawn Johnsen, it’s important for the Administration to set the record straight.  Make no mistake about it; this is the result of the unchecked, reckless obstruction of the GOP.”