Liberal Groups Urge Reid to Move Controversial Nominee

Posted October 30, 2009 at 12:14pm

A coalition of liberal advocacy groups called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Friday to unlock the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel.“Professor Johnsen’s nomination, along with other executive branch nominations, has been delayed to an unprecedented extent,— the letter states, later noting that delay to approve any nominee “throws sand in the gears of executive branch departments and agencies that are serving critical public needs.—The letter was signed by the People for the American Way, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Alliance for Justice, the American Association of People with Disabilities, Change to Win, the Human Rights Campaign and several others.Johnsen, an Indiana University law school professor, is the most controversial nominee awaiting Senate action. President Barack Obama tapped her in February to lead the Office of Legal Counsel, and her nomination has been lingering on the executive calendar since March 19, prompting the coalition to declare the delay in action “extraordinary and unacceptable.—While Republicans staunchly oppose her selection over her positions on abortion rights and her past criticism of Bush administration interrogation tactics, not all Democrats have rallied behind her selection either.Moderate Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has taken issue with her past statements on the interrogation techniques. And Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) has not said whether he would support her installment or whether he would back procedural motion to bring her nomination to the Senate floor.