The Hill reports today that liberal groups are stepping up their pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to call a vote on Dawn Johnsen, President Obama’s pick to head the Office of Legal Counsel.
As I reported earlier this week, Republicans have stalled Johnsen’s nomination with their ambivalence about supporting cloture and the leadership’s refusal to agree to a time limit for debate on the vote. Although Johnsen clearly has the 51 votes she needs to be confirmed and may have enough votes to support cloture, Republicans’ insistence on 30 hours of debate before the Senate can actually vote on the nomination has made it difficult for Reid to put the vote on the calendar.
Johnsen has angered Republicans by being openly critical of OLC policies under the Bush administration, and by supporting abortion rights 20 years ago as a lawyer for the National Abortion Rights Action League, or NARAL (now NARAL Pro-Choice America).
Johnsen may have more support now than she did at the time of her hearing, however, since Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, then a Republican and one of her harshest questioners back in February, has switched parties. After saying he opposed Johnsen’s nomination back in April, Specter recently met with her a second time and said he is reconsidering his position.
Update: Here’s a copy of the letter pressing for Johnsen’s confirmation sent to Sen. Reid today by a coalition of civil and human rights groups.