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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  1. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

  2. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

  3. Lets talk about this without forgetting that Lawyers, too, have FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION

  4. Baer filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit on April 30 2015. When will this be decided? How many more appeals does this guy have? Unbelievable this is dragging on like this.

  5. They ruled there is no absolute right to keep a license, whether it be for a lifetime or a short period of time. So with that being said, this state taught me at the age of 15 how to obtain that license. I am actually doing something that I was taught to do, I'm not breaking the law breaking the rules and according to the Interstate Compact the National Interstate Compact...driving while suspended is a minor offense. So, do with that what you will..Indiana sucks when it comes to the driving laws, they really and truly need to reevaluate their priorities and honestly put the good of the community first... I mean, what's more important the pedophile drug dealer or wasting time and money to keep us off the streets?

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