Surprising controversy?

April 20, 2009
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The U.S. Senate is back from break and ready to get down to business. On the Senate executive calendar for today is the nomination of Indiana University Maurer School of Law Professor Dawn Johnsen. She’s been on the calendar in the past and nothing’s happened, so who knows if the Senate will actually get around to discussing her nomination today.

Johnsen, along with another nominee with an Indiana connection, federal judge David Hamilton, are causing quite a stir in Washington. There are some people and groups that adamantly oppose Johnsen becoming Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel or Judge Hamilton joining the 7th Circuit.

What are the chances that two nominees from Indiana would be so controversial? When I think of Indiana, I immediately think conservative, so I’m surprised that these nominees are being cited for their more “liberal” leanings or rulings.

I can understand why some groups may oppose Johnsen as a nominee – she has been very outspoken about former President George W. Bush’s policies and worked at NARAL Pro-Choice America and the American Civil Liberties Union before joining the Clinton administration. To some people, those are controversial organizations that work in areas others strongly oppose.

But when it comes to Judge Hamilton coming under fire for his rulings, I just don’t get it. As a judge, he has to decide based on the law. His controversial rulings just upheld the law. While you may not agree with his decisions, that doesn’t make him a bad judge or unfit for the bench.

At this time, we still don’t know if Johnsen or Judge Hamilton will be confirmed, but we’re keeping a close eye on it. What do you think about the controversy surrounding these two? Justified or unwarranted?
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