The Conservative Action Project: Dawn Johnsen Unsuitable for Crucial Legal Position at Department of Justice

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Elaine Donnelly, President, Center for Military Readiness
William Wilson, President, Americans for Limited Government
Marjorie Dannenfelser, President, Susan B. Anthony List
David Keene, Chairman, American Conservative Union
Wendy Wright, President, Concerned Women for America
Colin Hanna, President, Let Freedom Ring
Herman Pirchner, Jr., President, American Foreign Policy Council
Kay Daly, President, Coalition for a Fair Judiciary
Mathew D. Staver, Founder & Chairman, Liberty Counsel
Gary Bauer, President, American Values
Curt Levey, Executive Director, Committee for Justice
Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
Andrea Lafferty, Executive Director, Traditional Values Coalition
Brent Bozell, President, Media Research Center
Alfred Regnery, President, American Spectator
Susan Carleson, Chairman & CEO, American Civil Rights Union
J. Kenneth Blackwell, Visiting Professor, Liberty University School of Law
Kristan Hawkins, Executive Director, Students for Life of America
T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr., former Counselor to the U.S. Attorney General
Austin Ruse, President, Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute
David McIntosh, former Member of Congress, Indiana
Marion Edwyn Harrison, Past President, Free Congress Foundation
Jim Martin, Chairman, 60 Plus Association
Herman Cain, President, THE New Voice, Inc.
Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, Chairman, Traditional Values Coalition
Richard Viguerie, Chairman,


Dawn Johnsen Unsuitable for Crucial Legal Position at Department of Justice

RE: President Obama’s nomination of Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel would compromise the position due to her demonstrated history of expressing radical views on such issues as prosecuting suspected terrorists and abortion-on-demand. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Johnsen out on a party line vote of 12 to 7. Unlike other positions at DOJ, there was no bi-partisan support for this nomination of President Obama.

ACTION: The Senate should reject this nominee for a position of such importance that has government wide impact. Johnsen’s inappropriate view of the Constitution as an adaptable document, her polarizing history, and her radical positions on the war against terrorism and abortion on demand make her unsuitable for this crucial legal position at the Department of Justice.

ISSUE IN BRIEF: The head of the Office of Legal Counsel is to advise the Attorney General and the Executive Branch on the legality of their actions and is to review all executive orders. Such a position requires sound, reasoned judgment and a refined temperament. Johnsen’s statements and language are not consistent with the demands of such a position. Johnsen’s background and temperament indicates that she may impose her radical views on the rest of the Executive Branch. She has worked for the National Abortion Rights Action League and the ACLU. Moreover, her history of using combative language in opinions and articles on her blog suggests that she would not exhibit the professional temperament needed for the position of Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel.

Johnsen & the Constitution
Johnsen holds a liberal activist view of judges and the courts. Last year she stated that “the progressive agenda should focus on the courts as the vehicles for desired change.” Johnsen holds the view that the Constitution is a living document and rejects its original intent.
Johnsen & Terrorism
Johnsen supports the idea that “detainees the U.S. government has been holding at Guantanamo Bay for more than five years have a constitutional right to habeas corpus review.” Johnsen’s position is that detainees in Guantanamo should be immediately released or prosecuted in American judicial courts. Johnsen opposes the use of military commissions. Johnsen goes beyond Attorney General Eric Holder by objecting to all forms of rendition to other countries.
Johnsen & Abortion on demand
Johnsen has argued that religious organizations such as the Catholic Church should be stripped of their tax-exempt status due to their pro-life stances. On issues of life and abortion, Johnsen has given radical statements in legal briefs. In Johnsen’s 1989 amicus curiae brief in the case Webster v. Reproductive Health Service she labeled pregnant mothers as “losers in the contraceptive lottery” and described the experience of abortion as an emotional “relief” for women. In the same brief Johnsen claimed that pregnant mothers were victimized by the state because pregnancy “requires a woman to provide continuous physical service to the fetus in order to further the state’s asserted interest [in the life of the unborn]” Moreover, the woman “is constantly aware for nine months that her body is not her own: the state has conscripted her body for its own ends.” She contended that the pro-life stance of “forced pregnancy” was unconstitutional with respect to the 13th Amendment barring slavery.


(All organizations listed are for identification purposes only)

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