Opinion: Republican Obstructionism Turns To Filibuster of Dawn Johnsen

March 27, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Republican obstructionism is becoming so rampant; President Obama is temporarily handcuffed from staffing his administration, especially in Treasury and the Department of Justice. At a time when our country faces a perilous economic crisis and two wars, the Republicans obstruct and subvert Obama’s nominations at every turn. The recent threat to filibuster the nomination of Dawn Johnsen, to the White House Office of Legal Counsel is drawing ire from all sides.

The threat of “just say no” republicans to filibuster the nomination of Indiana University law professor, Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel or OLC, is their most egregious act to date, when it comes to obstructing Obama’s nominees to his administration. Johnsen comes with impeccable credentials. She served for five years in the OLC in the Clinton administration, was a US Deputy Assistant Attorney General, graduated summa cum laude from Yale Law School and was an editor of the Law Review.

So, what is the Republican’s problem with Johnsen’s nomination? Well, two things. First, Republicans are outraged over Johnsen’s previous stint as Legal Director, for the National Abortion & Reproductive Rights Action League or NARAL. Antiabortion groups have turned up the heat in recent weeks, painting Johnsen as a radical activist.

Perhaps though, the real reason for the threatened Republican filibuster is even more insidious. Scott Horton, a law professor, posted an intriguing piece today at the Daily Beast, about the obstruction of Johnsen’s nomination, entitled, “The Woman Who Could Nail Bush.” Horton believes the Republicans are terrified that Johnsen will seek to release additional Justice Department memos, detailing the Bush administration’s illegal behavior.

Johnsen has been publicly critical of Bush’s staffing the Justice Department with ideologues, who subverted the rule of law for political gains. She signed on to a statement of 19 former OLC lawyers, decrying Bush’s abuses and politicizing of the office. Johnsen doesn’t support torture or John Yoo’s use of his former office to provide Bush with a legal torture memo. As a result, Republicans have accused Johnsen of not supporting the fight against terrorism.

Johnsen sailed through the Judiciary Committee on March 19 without a single Republican vote. Her nomination was scheduled for a Senate vote this week, but the Republicans have delayed it, threatening a filibuster. Their threat of a filibuster to obstruct such an extremely qualified candidate to the OLC, has even caught the attention of the New York Times, which published an editorial this morning calling for her nomination without delay, chastising the Republicans.

The Times editorial said: “There is no corner of the executive branch in greater need of a new direction than the Office of Legal Counsel. The impressive Ms. Johnsen is an excellent choice to provide it.”

During the Bush administration, Bush filled up the Justice department with partisan hacks, from Pat Robertson’s Regent University Law School, which barely got an ABA accreditation. Justice Department lawyers who did not drink the conservative kool-aid were canned. It will take years for Obama to clean out the loyal Bush appointees, who put politics and loyalty to Bush above the rule of law.

President Obama is bringing in the best and the brightest from such top tier law schools as Harvard and Yale, to restore the Justice Department to serving the public and not nefarious Republican political schemes.

The Republicans can filibuster Johnsen’s nomination all they want. It will just further serve to show the American public how intellectually bankrupt the Republican party has become.

In the words of Paul Krugman, “Republicans, once hailed as the party of ideas, have become the party of stupid.”


3 Responses to “Opinion: Republican Obstructionism Turns To Filibuster of Dawn Johnsen”

  1. Steve Palmberg on March 29th, 2009 2:18 am

    Re: the article on Dawn Johnsen’s confirmation

    I don’t know why I bothered to read this article. Everyone with an over room temperature IQ already knows that Bush had absolutely no regard for the law and that the Republican party is firmly into obstruction for obstruction’s sake.

    There are at least a couple of articles like this one on about every blog every day. But I can’t remember even one that had a concluding paragraph that started out saying something like “And this is what you can do about ……..”.

    The horse is indeed dead. Beating the carcass doesn’t acomplish anything. Why can’t at least a few of these wise blog pundits tell us how to dispose of the body in some sanitary fashion so the infection that killed the horse doesn’t spread?

  2. Sue on March 29th, 2009 5:53 pm

    Thank you for your comment Steve, however I strongly disagree with your characterization that bloggers and others who write about the Bush administration’s crimes and Republican obstructionism are beating a dead horse. The only way anything will ever get done to fix the problem Steve, is by bringing up the Bush administration’s complete disregard for the rule of law again and again and again, until the din gets so loud the leaders and politicians in our country have no choice but to pay attention.

    You say Steve: “Beating the carcass doesn’t accomplish (sic) anything. Why can’t at least a few of these wise blog pundits tell us how to dispose of the body in some sanitary fashion so the infection that killed the horse doesn’t spread?”

    The “go-along-get-along” mentality of both Democrats and Republicans saying they want to move forward, won’t fix the 8 years of lawlessness by the Bush administration Steve. We need to keep the issue in the public eye and keep beating the drum calling for criminal investigations into the actions of the Bush administration, if you want to see something done.

    Sadly, it may take other countries pursuing human rights cases against the US for using torture, before our own government will take any action of its own, to our utter shame.

    Recently Steve that’s exactly what happened: A Spanish court opened a criminal case against former Bush administration officials, for human right violations in using waterboarding, a recognized form of torture. Former Attorney General Alberto, undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith; former Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff David Addington; Justice Department officials John Yoo and Jay S. Bybee; and Pentagon lawyer William have all been charged.

    This is just the beginning Steve, as I believe other countries will follow Spain in bringing their own charges. So, if you keep reading about this issue Steve, it’s because we all want something to be done and not have the crimes of the Bush administration swept under the rug, like they never happened.

  3. Frankie on March 30th, 2009 12:30 am

    Count on Harry “Jelly Fish” Reid to let the Republiscums filibuster all they want on that one.

    Mind you, the Republican’ts have every reason to be scared of her. She’s made it very clear that crimes committed must be prosecuted…a radical idea when it comes to our elected officials, according to the Washington press corps and the far-right wing-nutery, helped in their position by none other than Obama himself who “prefer to look forward than backward”.

    But, not to worry! After all, aren’t we a nation governed by the rule of law?

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