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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. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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