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Editorial: Political pomposity a disservice to public

Editorial Indiana Lawyer
April 28, 2010
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Indiana Lawyer Editorial


She deserved the nomination, and definitely was the right woman for the job, but unfor tunately partisan vitriol appears to be worth more in Washington, D.C., than doing the right thing.

Dawn Johnsen withdrew her name from consideration to head the Office of Legal Counsel April 9, the same day her brother-in-law, Judge David Hamilton, was formally elevated to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals during an investiture ceremony in Indianapolis.

It was her second trip through what must be a grueling process: Senate confirmation. The Indiana University Maurer School of Law professor was nominated in early 2009, but her nomination stalled at year's end after no vote was taken. President Barack Obama renominated her this year, but we're not entirely sure why. We understand from news accounts regarding her nomination that the Obama administration was working quietly behind-the-scenes to gain a full Senate vote for Johnsen to lead OLC, but the opposition to her was anything but behind-the-scenes. And sena tors who opposed the professor certainly weren't shy about expressing their relief when Johnsen withdrew her name from consideration.

We aspire to being as gracious as she was in the statement she made announcing her decision: "Restoring OLC to its best nonpartisan traditions was my primary objective for my anticipated service in this administration. Unfortunately, my nomination has met with lengthy delays and political opposition that threaten that objective and prevent OLC from functioning at full strength. I hope that the withdrawal of my nomination will allow this important office to be filled promptly."

We'd also some day like to be as patient as she is. Answer this: When was the last time you waited 15 months to learn whether you got the job? And to do all of this with not one whit of public reaction while being publically maligned and marginalized by members of the political opposition?

It's been nearly three weeks and we're still shaking our heads at the loss of her service to the country.

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  1. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  2. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

  3. She must be a great lawyer

  4. Ind. Courts - "Illinois ranks 49th for how court system serves disadvantaged" What about Indiana? A story today from Dave Collins of the AP, here published in the Benton Illinois Evening News, begins: Illinois' court system had the third-worst score in the nation among state judiciaries in serving poor, disabled and other disadvantaged members of the public, according to new rankings. Illinois' "Justice Index" score of 34.5 out of 100, determined by the nonprofit National Center for Access to Justice, is based on how states serve people with disabilities and limited English proficiency, how much free legal help is available and how states help increasing numbers of people representing themselves in court, among other issues. Connecticut led all states with a score of 73.4 and was followed by Hawaii, Minnesota, New York and Delaware, respectively. Local courts in Washington, D.C., had the highest overall score at 80.9. At the bottom was Oklahoma at 23.7, followed by Kentucky, Illinois, South Dakota and Indiana. ILB: That puts Indiana at 46th worse. More from the story: Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, Colorado, Tennessee and Maine had perfect 100 scores in serving people with disabilities, while Indiana, Georgia, Wyoming, Missouri and Idaho had the lowest scores. Those rankings were based on issues such as whether interpretation services are offered free to the deaf and hearing-impaired and whether there are laws or rules allowing service animals in courthouses. The index also reviewed how many civil legal aid lawyers were available to provide free legal help. Washington, D.C., had nearly nine civil legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty, the highest rate in the country. Texas had the lowest rate, 0.43 legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty. http://indianalawblog.com/archives/2014/11/ind_courts_illi_1.html

  5. A very thorough opinion by the federal court. The Rooker-Feldman analysis, in particular, helps clear up muddy water as to the entanglement issue. Looks like the Seventh Circuit is willing to let its district courts cruise much closer to the Indiana Supreme Court's shorelines than most thought likely, at least when the ADA on the docket. Some could argue that this case and Praekel, taken together, paint a rather unflattering picture of how the lower courts are being advised as to their duties under the ADA. A read of the DOJ amicus in Praekel seems to demonstrate a less-than-congenial view toward the higher echelons in the bureaucracy.

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