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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. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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