Controversial Candidate Withdraws Nomination

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

In what is considered to be a major triumph for pro-life conservatives, the radical pro-abortion Dawn Johnsen, President Obama’s pick to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), has officially announced that she is withdrawing from consideration due to ongoing protests over her radical position on abortion.

“I am deeply honored that President Obama, the Attorney General and a strong majority of the U.S. Senate have demonstrated faith and confidence in my ability to lead the Office of Legal Counsel,” Johnson said in a statement. “Unfortunately, my nomination has met with lengthy delays and political opposition that threaten that objective and prevent OLC from functioning at full strength. I hope that the withdrawal of my nomination will allow this important office to be filled promptly.”

Johnsen, a University of Indiana law professor, has come under fire for her radical pro-abortion views. For example, while serving as legal director for the pro-abortion NARAL, she wrote in a legal brief that forcing women to bear children was “disturbingly suggestive of involuntary servitude, prohibited by the 13th 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.”

She also referred to pregnant women as “fetal containers” and labeled them as “losers in the contraceptive lottery.” 

These views won widespread opposition to her appointment resulting in the Senate failing to vote on her confirmation before its session ended in December. Last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to endorse her, but her nomination once again stalled due to lack of support.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), ranking member the Senate Judiciary committee, said he was pleased Johnsen withdrew her name from consideration.

“Johnsen’s record of partisanship and her long history of extreme views and troubling activism relating to issues such as abortion and national security made her an unacceptable choice to fill this crucial role in the Department of Justice,” he said.

Had Johnsen been confirmed, she would have been a senior aide to Attorney General Eric Holder and would have been responsible for advising him on some of the diciest legal questions, such as the handling of Guantanamo Bay detainees, the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy of gays in the military, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and others.

White House spokesman Ben Labolt said Obama accepted Johnsen’s request to take her name out of consideration for the prominent legal position.

“Her credentials are exemplary and her commitment to the rule of law has been proven time and again, but it is now clear that Senate Republicans will not allow her to be confirmed,”  Labolt said.

The president will look for a replacement, he said, and will call upon the Senate to swiftly confirm his next nominee.

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