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Editorial: Quit stalling nominations

Editorial Indiana Lawyer
January 6, 2010
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Indiana Lawyer Editorial


After languishing in the U.S. Senate for about 10 months, the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to lead the Office of Legal Counsel finally got some action.

We suppose "action" is in the eye of the beholder, because ultimately the Senate refused to take a final vote on the nomination of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law - Bloomington professor to hold the job as head of the Department of Justice's OLC. It's an office she worked for during the Clinton administration and led on an interim basis during that stint.

According to the Senate's rules, nominations must be acted upon by the end of the year of the legislative session. If that doesn't happen, nominations can be carried over into the next year's session by a unanimous agreement or sent back to the president for him to think over. This happened right before the Christmas holidays.

Now President Barack Obama must decide whether to renominate Johnsen and the other nominees the Senate refused to consider. Whether the president sticks with his original candidates or chooses new ones, the nomination process begins from square one.

We sincerely hope that the president sticks with this nominee, and we'd like to see him flex some political muscle in getting her confirmed. She's proven to be a tough and fearlessly outspoken critic of things that are unjust and unfair. Such behavior appears to have earned her some political enemies, but we find tough and outspoken to be admirable qualities.

Johnsen is not without controversy. She incites the ire of abortion opponents because of her previous work as legal director for National Abortion Rights Action League, now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Others are against Johnsen because of her criticism of the legal reasoning given to the George W. Bush administration by its OLC that cleared the way for changes in the way detainees suspected of terrorist connections were interrogated. Johnsen also criticized that office during the Bush administration for what some say undermined privacy and due process rights.

Opposition to her leading the office appears to depend in large part on what side of the aisle a politician happens to be on. Yet our U.S. Sens. Richard Lugar, a Republican, and Evan Bayh, a Democrat, have said publicly that they will vote for her confirmation. Perhaps these two gentlemen could give lessons to their fellow senators in how to have differences of opinion and get work done all at the same time.

We understand that the odds of President Obama reading this newspaper are small - after all, he's not an Indiana lawyer - but we're calling on him to renominate Dawn Johnsen to lead the OLC, and we'd like to see him forcefully get behind this nomination and the others that need to be made across the country.

Indiana has one vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, and two in the Southern District. We were happy to see David Capp get the nomination for U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, but action needs to be taken on the Southern District job, which is being capably led on an interim basis by Tim Morrison.

It's time to nominate, confirm, and get some work done.*

 

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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