Liberal Groups Pressure Harry Reid to Allow Vote on Pro-Abortion Dawn Johnsen

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 3, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Liberal Groups Pressure Harry Reid to Allow Vote on Pro-Abortion Dawn Johnsen

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 3
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Liberal groups are putting pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to allow a vote on embattled Office of Legal Counsel nominee Dawn Johnsen. The Obama administration said last month it has no plans to withdraw the nomination and liberal groups want Reid to schedule a vote.

Johnsen, if approved by the Senate, would serve as the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of the Legal Counsel in the Obama administration.

She is a professor at the Indiana University School of Law, but she is also a longtime abortion advocate and worked for one of the leading abortion advocacy groups and her radical pro-abortion stance has held up her selection.

The pro-abortion activist has come under fire for calling women "fetal containers" and comparing pregnancy with slavery. She has also come under fire for labeling pregnant women "losers in the contraceptive lottery" and comparing pro-lifers to the Klu Klux Klan.

Last week, a report in The Hill indicated 40 organizations have called on Reid to schedule a vote and they are upset Johnsen’s nomination has waited for eight months even with 60 Democrats controlling the chamber.

The groups signing on the letter include People for the American Way, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Feminist Majority and the National Council of La Raza and they call the delay “extraordinary and unacceptable.”

“We trust he can do it and he has to put his shoulder to the wheel,” Marge Baker, of People for the American Way told The Hill. “I think it’s time to figure when to schedule this for a vote.”

Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, said groups are upset that Reid hasn’t made the abortion advocate a higher priority.

“I was certainly hearing that among the groups,” she said. “There’s frustration she’s not at the top of the list. The groups really believe the votes are there.”

However, a few Democrats have already said they will join Republicans in voting against Johnsen and maybe going as far as supporting a filibuster against her nomination.

That list includes Sens. Ben Nelson, of Nebraska and the only consistent pro-life Democrat, and Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania lawmaker who is a former Republican. The Hill indicates Nelson reaffirmed his position that he opposes Johnsen because of her abortion advocacy.

Nancy Keenan of NARAL told the newspaper that Johnsen has support from “both sides of the aisle" and there is no reason to oppose her.

Any battle to approve Johnsen’s nomination could take place in the coming weeks as the Senate has confirmed pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, although the protracted health care debate could hold it up further.

Johnsen returned to Indiana University in August to teach a class because of the delay in her nomination.

She was the Legal Director for NARAL from 1988-1993.
After that, she served in the Clinton administration as the Acting Assistant Attorney General heading the Office of Legal Counsel from 1997-1998 and as Deputy Assistant Attorney General from 1993-1996. She also served on the Clinton transition team in 1992.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Johnsen in February, where she received a party-line 11-7 vote in favor of moving her nomination to the full Senate.

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