Senate Panel to Vote Thursday on Pro-Abortion Obama Pick Dawn Johnsen

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 3, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Panel to Vote Thursday on Pro-Abortion Obama Pick Dawn Johnsen

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 3
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Thursday on the re-nomination of pro-abortion attorney Dawn Johnsen to hold a key Justice Department position.

A law professor at Indiana University and former NARAL attorney, President Barack Obama tapped Johnsen to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

The election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts was thought to be the death knell for her nomination because it would again give opponents enough votes to uphold a filibuster against her — but Obama re-nominated Johnsen anyway

Johnsen made it through the Senate panel on a party-line vote last March but Republican lawmakers had opposed Johnsen over her rabidly pro-abortion position and because of other political issues, such as terrorism.

Johnsen originally found herself the subject of a Republican filibuster supported by a couple of Democrats, but when pro-abortion Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter caved in to a Democratic primary opponent and flip-flopped to supporting her, the Obama administration signaled she would be re-nominated and would get enough votes to overcome the filibuster.

That’s because Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar, who normally votes pro-life, says he will support the Johnsen nomination.

Lugar’s press secretary Andy Fisher has confirmed that Lugar "still plans to vote for her."

But, the election of Brown made her confirmation a question and he could provide the 41st vote to support a filibuster because Sen. Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat, opposes Johnsen’s nomination.

In comments to Roll Call after Brown defeated pro-abortion activist Martha Coakley, Nelson said he didn’t think Johnsen’s nomination stood much of a chance now. He previously cited her pro-abortion record as a reason for opposing her.

Johnsen had been delayed by Republicans who oppose her because she is strongly pro-abortion — going as far as saying pregnant women are subjected to a form of slavery — and because of other political reasons.

If confirmed, Johnsen would be in charge of the office that formulates the attorney general’s formal opinions and provides counsel on the thorniest legal questions.

In a brief filed when she was a lawyer with NARAL, Johnsen cited a footnote that said forcing women to bear children was "disturbingly suggestive of involuntary servitude, prohibited by the 13th Amendment, in that forced pregnancy requires a woman to provide continuous physical service to the fetus in order to further the state’s asserted interest."

Johnsen told lawmakers at her hearing that she merely suggested an analogy in the footnote and "never believed the 13th Amendment had any role" in the abortion issue.

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.

Johnsen 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.

ACTION: Find contact information for any senator at and urge both of your senators to oppose the Johnsen nomination.

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