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Dawn Johnsen Says OLC Should Release Interpretations of Statutes

Facing vigorous questioning from Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and other skeptics during her confirmation hearing today before the Senate

Luke Evans
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Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Feb 26, 2009

Facing vigorous questioning from Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and other skeptics during her confirmation hearing today before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Indiana University law professor and Office of Legal Counsel Director-nominee Dawn Johnsen said that if confirmed, she would urge the release of all OLC memos interpreting congressional statutes.

Alluding to the OLC under President Bush, which refused to release memos concerning the interpretation of statutes regarding torture and the treatment of detainees, Johnsen said that “when the executive branch acts contrary to statute in secret, that goes right to the heart of what makes our great constitutional democracy work. In this system, we as Americans are all proud of the fact that the government is responsible to us, and we the people are the government. If we don’t know how the executive is interpreting a statute, congress can’t do its job of oversight.”

That’s consistent with her previous writings on the subject of the OLC and secrecy. During her hearing, Johnsen has otherwise been getting beaten up for her past criticisms of the OLC by the more conservative senators on the Judiciary Committee — but has received high praise from Democratic senators, particularly Dianne Feinstein of California and Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold.

Luke Evans | My name is Luke Evans, and I work as a Web Developer. I am a professional coder and programmer who enjoys contributing to the exciting technical advancements. In 2016, I received a Bachelor's Degree in Software Development from California Institute of Technology. For my outstanding academic performance and leadership abilities while in school, I received the Edmund Gains Award in 2015.

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