Law professor not named as recess appointment

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A Bloomington law professor tapped for a leading Department of Justice job wasn't among those included in recess appointments during the weekend by President Barack Obama, but the administration hopes that she'll soon be considered for a full Senate vote.

On Saturday, the White House named 15 individuals by recess appointment, which allows the president to circumvent the full Senate confirmation process typically required and fill a position temporarily until the end of the Congressional session or until a vote happens.

"The United States Senate has the responsibility to approve or disapprove of my nominees" to administration posts, Obama said in a written statement that also named the 15 individuals. "But if, in the interest of scoring political points, Republicans in the Senate refuse to exercise that responsibility, I must act in the interest of the American people and exercise my authority to fill these positions on an interim basis. I simply cannot allow partisan politics to stand in the way of the basic functioning of government."

Not on that list was Dawn Johnsen, the Indiana University Maurer School of Law - Bloomington professor who's become a controversial nominee chosen to lead the Office of Legal Counsel. The president first nominated her in February 2009, but after getting a partisan support from the Senate Judiciary Committee her nomination languished and eventually died without a vote by the full Senate. Her nomination was resubmitted in January, and a second partisan vote in early March sent her name to the full Senate for consideration. The Senate didn't schedule her for a vote before going on its two-week recess at the end of last week.

While not included on the recess appointment list, a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said future recess appointments could be possible if the Senate doesn't move more quickly once it returns April 12.

"Of the 77 people on the calendar, we are only recess appointing 15, and there are a number of qualified individuals the president has nominated that do not fall in this group," the official wrote in an e-mail to Indiana Lawyer. "If the Republicans do not end their campaign of obstruction, the president reserves the option of exerting his authority to recess appoint qualified individuals in the future, but our hope is that we can move beyond the partisan politics that have held up the process for the last 15 months for the good of the American people."

Johnsen served as acting assistant attorney general in the OLC during the Clinton administration. But she has drawn Republican opposition because of her criticisms of the OLC during George W. Bush's administration and generally because of her positions on terrorism, executive power, and abortion issues. She's received opposition from pro-life organizations for her work with NARAL Pro-Choice America from 1988 to 1993.


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  1. Great observation Smith. By my lights, speaking personally, they already have. They counted my religious perspective in a pro-life context as a symptom of mental illness and then violated all semblance of due process to banish me for life from the Indiana bar. The headline reveals the truth of the Hoosier elite's animus. Details here: Denied 2016 petition for cert (this time around): (“2016Pet”) Amicus brief 2016: (“2016Amici”) As many may recall, I was banned for five years for failing to "repent" of my religious views on life and the law when a bar examiner demanded it of me, resulting in a time out to reconsider my "clinging." The time out did not work, so now I am banned for life. Here is the five year time out order: Denied 2010 petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): (“2010Pet”) Read this quickly if you are going to read it, the elites will likely demand it be pulled down or pile comments on to bury it. (As they have buried me.)

  2. if the proabortion zealots and intolerant secularist anti-religious bigots keep on shutting down every hint of religious observance in american society, or attacking every ounce of respect that the state may have left for it, they may just break off their teeth.

  3. "drug dealers and traffickers need to be locked up". "we cannot afford just to continue to build prisons". "drug abuse is strangling many families and communities". "establishing more treatment and prevention programs will also be priorities". Seems to be what politicians have been saying for at least three decades now. If these are the most original thoughts these two have on the issues of drug trafficking and drug abuse, then we're no closer to solving the problem than we were back in the 90s when crack cocaine was the epidemic. We really need to begin demanding more original thought from those we elect to office. We also need to begin to accept that each of us is part of the solution to a problem that government cannot solve.

  4. What is with the bias exclusion of the only candidate that made sense, Rex Bell? The Democrat and Republican Party have created this problem, why on earth would anyone believe they are able to fix it without pushing government into matters it doesn't belong?

  5. This is what happens when daddy hands over a business to his moron son and thinks that everything will be ok. this bankruptcy is nothing more than Gary pulling the strings to never pay the creditors that he and his son have ripped off. they are scum and they know it.