OLC: Even More GOP Obfuscation On Dawn Johnsen?

All signs point to yes.

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline has been the point man for the Federalist Society talking points on Johnsen’s nomination. And he recently went with the inaccurate hyperventilation technique here:

…Dawn Johnsen, President Obama’s aggressively radical nominee…

Note that for Paul, John Yoo and David Addington are jim dandy, and a government which willfully lies to you about violating the laws and your civil rights is a-okay.  But Dawn Johnsen? She’s "aggressively radical."

So much for adherence to the rule of law when it undermines one’s politics, I suppose.

Why the new spate of snarl at Johnsen? Because instead of sitting around twiddling her thumbs while waiting for the rule of law to become a priority for Harry Reid and the Obama White House, she’s teaching a course this fall at Indiana University Law school. Presumably because she’d like to earn a bit of salary for her family, which she moved to Washington while awaiting a confirmation vote that still has not yet been scheduled in the Senate. She may not have a confirmation vote in hand just yet, but she does need to feed her kids and pay her rent.

Guess that whole work ethic thing is less popular with GOP spinmeisters these days.

Why the knickers in a twist? Could it be the course? As initially reported at Blue Indiana, theLegal Times Blog has the background:

The seminar, which Johnsen has taught before, is aimed at 2Ls and 3Ls. It’s titled “Sexuality, Reproduction and the Law.” According to the course description, students will “explore governmental regulation of sexuality and reproduction in the United States. We will focus on regulation aimed at sexual activity, reproduction and sexual orientation, with particular attention to the constitutional protections afforded in those areas.”

Never mind that students came to Johnsen’s defense once before after right-wing smear attempts, saying about her teaching style: "Johnsen’s incredibly fair, intelligent and scholarly outlook, combined with her constant interest in hearing all viewpoints, made class both fascinating and a true learning environment."

Damn her, she made her students actually think! Evil! 

But why bother with facts when you can smear you way forward?  Never fear, dear readers. The Democratic leadership has this well in hand. (more…)

OLC: Grand Obstruction Party Still Obstructing Dawn Johnsen’s Nomination

Listen my children and you shall hear, of the continued obstruction and gooberish fear…

The Grand Obstruction Party and weak-kneed Democratic leadership. Still at it:

Still unconfirmed are three circuit court nominees and four nominees for assistant attorney general positions, including Dawn Johnsen for the Office of Legal Counsel. Democrats need Republican agreement in order to move the nominees forward, unless they want to use days of time on the Senate floor.

And there it is, in a nutshell. 

What I’ve been hearing all along is that Johnsen does have the votes to get past cloture — with both Nelson and Specter intending to vote for cloture, regardless of their ultimate nomination vote.  So, what’s the hold-up in bringing this vote to the floor?

The lack of leadership willpower to expend political capital and Senate floor time to force it through.

In other words, the Democratic leadership will not go to the mattresses for these nominees and the GOP knows they are too weak to do it.

As David Waldman has patiently explained, time and time again, the mere threat of a filibuster-esque thought on a particular nominee or legislative whimsy is enough to send the Democratic leadership in the Senate off with a case of the immobilized vapors:

So do Republicans intend to filibuster the bill? Probably not in the sense that they want to see it killed, which means they’ll deny that they’re engaged in a filibuster, or even threatening one. But make no mistake, there is no reason why anything in the Senate requires 60 votes except to end a filibuster, whether one materializes out in the open or not. If the threat is that the bill’s opponents will force a 60 vote threshold unless they get an opportunity to change the bill, the threat is nothing other than a threat to filibuster.

Will a filibuster materialize? Probably not, at least not one seriously aimed at killing the bill. Instead, concessions will be made that should guarantee forward progress on some amended form of the bill. . . . expect a deal to be struck that should eliminate the possibility of a successful filibuster that would actually prevent the bill from coming to a vote. And that’s what will matter to the Senate leadership.

That was David on the stimulus package showboating.  But the same applies to nearly every other stoppage in the Senate before and since. (more…)

SCOTUS: Tipping The Scales Between Politics And The Rule Of Law

The vote on Sonia Sotomayor’s SCOTUS nomination is likely to come at 3 pm ET today.

Would that other legal positions were also a priority in the Senate.  This is what happens when you fail to make the rule of law a priority:

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), speaking at the start of a committee meeting, expressed frustration that the Senate has not confirmed any nominees to the federal judiciary this year. In all, he said, there are 17 nominations that the Judiciary Committee has sent to the full Senate and that are still awaiting confirmation.

"The Senate has to do better," Leahy said. "There’s actually no excuse for not having moved yet."

What’s the logjam, you ask? A failure on any number of fronts, including a big fat failure of leadership:

…senators haven’t come to agreement to bring them to a vote.

The nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court has contributed to the slowdown among legal nominations. She is likely to be confirmed next week, and the Office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he hopes to break the backlog of other nominees before the Senate recess set to begin Aug. 7.

Who hasn’t yet been approved? We’re still waiting for Senate action on Dawn Johnsen.  That this is beyond irritating is no news to regulars here.

But there are also 5 USAtty positions, 3 other DOJ leadership positions [Thomas E. Perez (civil rights), Mary L. Smith (tax), and Christopher Schroeder (Office of Legal Policy)], 3 federal judges [David F. Hamilton (7th Circuit); Gerard Lynch (2nd Circuit); and Andre M. Davis (4th Circuit)] and other legal advisers peppered throughout the executive branch pending votes. 

The continued lack of political will on rule of law issues is unacceptable. Period. 

Absence Of Clear Guidance And Action Is A Policy Choice, Too.

An interesting pattern has emerged among the federal judges charged with reviewing the habeas petitions of Gitmo detainees. Chisun Lee of ProPublica explains: A close examination of the decisions shows that some of the fears about sending terrorism cases to civilian courts have not been realized.

Reality Smites

Here is my biggest current fear in a legal nutshell. It’s laid out succinctly by Jonathan Adler of Case Western Reserve Law School:If a Senate with sixty Democrats would be wary of confirming an overt and unapologetic liberal — as this Senate has thus far been regarding the confirmation of Dawn Johnsen to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel…

Tortured Logic: The Urgent Need For Leadership And Accountability At OLC

Jefferson Memorial at sunset via Camera Slayer.In case anyone is wondering why I’ve been dogging the Dawn Johnsen OLC nomination for months and months on end? Why restoration of the rule of law and having real leadership in place at OLC rather than a temporary staffing limbo is so important to me?

OLC: “Look The Other Way” Doesn’t Count As Leadership

omewhere in the last few weeks, the Beltway stupor has begun to lift on obstructionist tactics.  Sort of. When even Norm Ornstein raises his eyes from the muck and sees a need for finger wagging, you know there’s been some sternly worded chatter over manchego and port in Georgetown.

OLC: Action Finally?!? The Rule Of Law Needs Your Calls

The rule of law needs your calls this morning. Brian Buetler reports that Dawn Johnsen has finally moved to DC, which is a very good signal that something’s cooking. She’s not the sort to uproot her family precipitously based on what I know about her, so I’m taking it as a very good sign. What would be better? Leadership signals and some real action.

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