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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