Close this search box.

White House Arrogance

By January 21, 2010Legal
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Most reasonable people can understand why President Obama felt extremely confident after his victory just a year ago. No one can dispute that he defied enormous odds to become the 44th President of the United States. But the arrogance permeating throughout his entire Administration – from the President down – has really taken everyone by surprise.

On Tuesday night, it even surprised them. It would be difficult to overstate the significance of the Brown victory in Massachusetts. And we can only hope that it will cause this Administration to pause and remember that they were put in power to serve the people, not to impose their radical views on them.

thshowcase.jpgOf course, we all know they ignored the majority of Americans by passing the “bailout” bills and when they made outrageous “back room deals” to pass ObamaCare, but these are not the only examples. President Obama’s recent re-nomination of Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel is yet another example of this cancer of arrogance eating the Administration from within.

Johnsen is an extremely radical nominee whose views are light years away from those of most Americans. Her views on national security issues, for example, are extremely troubling. She has advocated for the extension of constitutional rights to terrorists captured in war1 and has suggested we not use words like “war” when talking about the Constitution and the war on terror because “war has a long history of specialized constitutional meaning.”

Her views on abortion are even more radical. Johnsen has been a strong advocate of the use of public funds to pay for abortions, something most Americans deplore. In Webster v. Reproductive Health Services,2 Johnsen fought a Missouri law prohibiting the use of public funds to “encourage or counsel” a woman to have an abortion. She argued:

Statutes that curtail [a woman’s] abortion choice are disturbingly suggestive of involuntary servitude, prohibited by the Thirteenth Amendment, in that forced pregnancy requires a woman to provide continuous physical service to the fetus in order to further the state’s asserted interest.

Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, recently reiterated his organization’s opposition to Johnsen, reminding us that in the late 1980s she joined a suit to strip the Catholic Church of its tax exempt status because of its “strong pro-life position.”

Johnsen’s radical views on abortion were in line with her career path, working for many years as the legal director for NARAL Pro-Choice America and as staff counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Reproductive Freedom Project, but they also show she is an ideologue, eager to put her personal views ahead of the law.

In fact, we know she cannot be trusted to abide by the Constitution. Johnsen actually served as a board member for the American Constitution Society, which rejects a straightforward reading of the Constitution, preferring a “living” one that they can mold to fit their personal ideologies.

In a new book titled, “The Constitution in 2020,” Johnsen writes the chapter “A Progressive Reproductive Rights Agenda for 2020,” where she “contemplate[s] the constitutional change [they] hope to promote between now and then.” On her wish list, of course, is government-run health care where you and I are forced to pay for other people’s abortions. She also wants to prepare for “future controversies, including those that might arise from medical and scientific advances” (emphasis mine).

You know, those evil pro-lifers keep coming up with stuff like 3D and 4D ultrasound. Next thing you know, women will actually know what’s inside their wombs!

Dawn Johnsen’s views are so radical that Democrats could not get her nomination through, even when they had a super-majority in the Senate. On Christmas Eve, her nomination was sent back to the President, along with several others.

Which brings us back to the President’s arrogance. No, he did not listen to the American people and even some senators who had publicly expressed concerns about her. He did not reconsider her record, which might have suggested to him she was better suited to work at Planned Parenthood than as counsel to his office. He simply re-nominated her.

If we could only just understand that he knows best and we should just trust his judgment. Ahem.

After the President re-submitted Johnsen’s name, several senators, including Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), and Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), asked for a new hearing on her nomination. On their letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) they wrote:

We believe many unanswered questions remain about Dawn Johnsen’s suitability to guide our Nation’s legal response to the war on terror through the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). Ms. Johnsen’s record calls into question her dedication to aggressive Executive action in national security matters.

There is no question. These are legitimate concerns which represent the view of millions of Americans. However, if we go by recent experience, the senators should expect to have as much input on this as they have been allowed to have on health care.

Maybe Johnsen will help the President and remove herself from consideration, as we have seen with several other radical nominees (Tom Daschle, Van Jones and Erroll Southers come to mind), but to expect this Administration to think about our concerns on their own is not likely to happen. Unless the Brown ghost has scared some common sense into them, that is.

End Notes

  1. Indiana University Legal Experts Address Guantanamo Detainee Case, December 3, 2007, available at
  2. Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 492 U.S. 490 (1989).