Republicans Press Obama to Withdraw Johnsen Nomination

Created: April 21, 2009 17:01 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

Declaring that Dawn Johnsen “is so against an unborn child’s right-to-live that she has labeled mothers-to-be ‘fetal containers’,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) sent a letter to President Obama today urging him to withdraw her nomination to head the Office of Legal Counsel.

“Nominating Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel is an insult to pro-life Americans who are willing to work with President Obama to find common ground,” King wrote. “Her personal pro-abortion agenda, previous disparaging comments about pro-life Americans and past criticism of Congress’ ban on partial-birth abortion are evidence that she is not interested in finding common ground with those who oppose her narrow philosophy,” said King in a statement released today.

Johnsen’s legal arguments defending the right to an abortion come from cases she handled as a lawyer at the National Abortion Rights Action League, or NARAL, a position she left in 1993.

King’s statements echo the charges of Senator Arlen Specter and other Republicans at Johnsen’s confirmation hearing, where she was attacked for a statement she made in a 20-year-old footnote to a brief she wrote to the Supreme Court in an abortion case. That footnote was also cited by Andrew McCarthy in the National Review.

The Office of Legal Counsel provides legal advice to the president and has no particular authority over abortion policy, which is largely left to the states.

Nevertheless, King and 62 other representatives last month wrote to President Obama urging him to withdraw her nomination on the same grounds.

The pressure to kill the Johnsen nomination may become even stronger now that President Obama has released more OLC memos detailing the CIA’s abusive interrogation tactics last week.

Scott Horton reported earlier in The Daily Beast that Republicans were threatening to derail the confirmations of Johnsen and Harold Hongju Koh, nominated as counsel to the State Department, if President Obama released the controversial memos.