Sunday :: Dec 27, 2009

Nelson's War On Women: Helps GOP Kill Dawn Johnsen Nomination


by Turkana

Fresh off successfully making the Democratic Party responsible for reversing the Overton Window on reproductive choice, ostensible Democrat Ben Nelson has helped kill President Obama's nomination of Dawn Johnsen to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

It was to appease Nelson that Democrats inserted this inexcusable language into the health care bill's Manager's Amendment (pdf):

7 SEC. 1303. SPECIAL RULES. 8 (a) STATE OPT-OUT OF ABORTION COVERAGE.— 9 (1) IN GENERAL.—A State may elect to pro 10 hibit abortion coverage in qualified health plans of 11 fered through an Exchange in such State if such 12 State enacts a law to provide for such prohibition.

Now, Nelson has joined with Republicans to scuttle Johnson's nomination. The Republicans opposed her for their usual and no longer astonishingly dishonest reasons. As explained by the Washington Post:

Johnsen's nomination, in particular, has been controversial from the moment in January when Obama announced her as his choice. She was outspoken in her criticism of the Justice Department during President George W. Bush's administration as "tainted" by political considerations.

Republicans questioned during a hearing on her appointment whether Johnsen had the "requisite seriousness" to head the Office of Legal Counsel.

After all, how could anyone take seriously someone who was critical of the Bush Administration's exemplary Justice Department?

Torture memos.

Warrantless wiretapping.

U.S. Attorneys scandal.

Political persecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.

And how could anyone take seriously someone with this thin resume?:

B.A. in economics, political science at Yale College, 1983 J.D. at Yale Law School, 1986

* Graduated Yale College summa cum laude with a B.A. in economics and political science
* Member of Phi Beta Kappa
* Article and book review editor of the Yale Law Journal at Yale Law School
* Acting Assistant Attorney General (1997-1998) and Deputy Assistant Attorney General (1993-1996), U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel, Washington, D.C.
* Legal Director, National Abortion & Reproductive Rights Action League (currently NARAL Pro-Choice America) (1988-1993)
* Staff Counsel Fellow, American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project, New York (1987-1988)
* Clerk, Hon. Richard D. Cudahy, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Chicago (1986-1987)

And in her current job, as Professor of Law at Indiana University's Maurer School of Law:

Johnsen serves on the national board of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy and as co-chair of the ACS Issue Group on Separation of Powers and Federalism. Her research interests include issues of separation of powers (especially presidential power) and civil liberties (especially reproductive rights).She has testified before Congress and appeared on many national television and radio news programs as an expert on these issues.

Her courses include Constitutional Law, the First Amendment, and Seminars in the Separation of Powers and Sexuality, Reproduction and the Constitution.

Particularly in comparison to the eminently distinguished, apolitical people Bush appointed.

But Greg Sargent got an email from Nelson's spokesperson, who made Nelson's rationale odiously clear:

Senator Nelson is very concerned about the nomination of Dawn Johnson, based on her previous position as Counsel for NARAL. He believes that the Office of Legal Counsel is a position in which personal views can have an impact and is concerned about her outspoken pro-choice views on abortion.

And just in case you were wondering if Nelson always takes such stands about personal views, Sam Stein explained, last May:

Where was the principled opposition from the Senator during the Bush years? Why is he refusing to show Obama the same deference that he offered the previous administration?

The votes, they argue tell the story. Nelson supported cloture or confirmation for some of Bush's most controversial judges and political nominees, including several who were never able to be confirmed even under a GOP-controlled Senate. Moreover, Nelson often defended his positions by citing presidential prerogative.

"The president's nominees, especially to the Supreme Court, deserve an up-or-down vote," he said of the nominating process, "even if the nominee isn't popular with the special-interest groups in Washington."

Stein points out that Nelson backed the Bush nominations of anti-choice extremists Samuel Alito and John Roberts to the Supreme Court, and equally anti-choice John Ashcroft as Attorney General. And just in case you think Nelson's hypocrisy is limited to ensuring that federal appointees share his view that women's bodies should be subject to government regulation, he also apparently had no problem backing a Bush appointee who was the poster boy for Bush era corruption: Alberto Gonzales, as Attorney General.

Turkana :: 8:09 AM :: Comments (11) :: Digg It!