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Johnsen – there’s still time to oppose her nomination

I haven’t been following this nomination, but the nominee’s quotes in this article prompt me to share the information with you. Don’t have time now to check further, but am guessing the confirmation process is on hold til at least April 20th (or whatever the date is for Congress to resume after its current recess). Please use some of that time to research her background and the status of her confirmation hearings/vote. Send me whatever information you think may be helpful. This blog can be a collaborative effort!

Media, Pro-Abortion Groups
Promote Obama Legal Counsel Pick
Dawn Johnsen

by Steven Ertelt, Editor
April 6, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Dawn Johnsen‘s abortion views are so far outside the mainstream that she has called women “fetal containers” and compared pregnancy with slavery. Yet the mainstream media is propping up Johnsen as an everday American who is coming under unfair attacks from pro-life advocates.

Johnsen would become the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of the Legal Counsel if the Senate confirms her nomination.

In a Monday article, the Associated Press says Johnsen’s “friends and family” wonders how “someone they know as a soft-spoken mother of two boys has become the target of critics.”

AP acknowledges that Johnsen has received criticism for serving as the legal director of NARAL from 1988-1993.

But it promotes Johnsen as a small-town woman who didn’t know anyone when she moved to Bloomington, Indiana to become a law professor and says friends call her “low-key and modest.”

The news agency quotes a friend who calls her “unassuming” and says she is a good person because she goes to a local gym and wears old t-shirts.

Meanwhile, in an email to its supporters today, NARAL pulls out all the stops in building up Johnsen and urging abortion advocates to contact the Senate on her behalf.

“Right-wing news magazines, the grassroots of the anti-choice movement, and even anti-choice elected officials are launching outrageous attacks” on Johnsen, NARAL president Nancy Keenan complains. “She’s being attacked by anti-choice senators simply because she’s pro-choice.”

Keenan also gripes that some pro-life lawmakers are considering filibustering her nomination — something she calls “guerilla warfare.”

“The use of the ‘f’ word — filibuster — when referring to any of these nominees is unacceptable. We won’t let this threat go unanswered. We must make it clear to our senators that derailing nominees for critical positions in the Obama administration and in the federal courts is not an option,” Keenan says.

What AP didn’t report and what Keenan didn’t mention in her email is just how extreme Johnsen’s abortion views are compared to those of most Americans.

In a 1989 brief filed in the Supreme Court in the Webster case, Johnsen said that any restriction that makes abortion less accessible is, in her view, tantamount to “involuntary servitude” because it “requires a woman to provide continuous physical service to the fetus in order to further the state’s asserted interest [in the life of the unborn].”

In effect, a woman “is constantly aware for nine months that her body is not her own: the state has conscripted her body for its own ends.” Such “forced pregnancy,” she contends, violates the Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibits slavery.

After she worked with NARAL, Johnsen 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.

Wendy Wright, the head of Concerned Women for America, told that Obama’s selection reveals a lot about his pro-abortion views and that Johnsen should be disqualified because of her work with a leading abortion advocacy group.

“NARAL’s obsession with abortion skews its legal positions, blinding it to the Constitution’s equal protection for all human beings,” she said. “The fact that Ms. Johnsen worked for NARAL is a huge black mark against her judgment and exposes her bias.”

“Americans will not be able to trust that Department of Justice’s legal opinions or Obama’s executive orders comply with the Constitution when the lead person for making that judgment is incapable of treating all human beings with respect,” she [Wendy Wright] added.

Contact members of the Senate at and urge strong opposition to Johnsen’s appointment.



090422 update: which includes links to other articles :

Added 090824M

Last week (?) I saw an article stating that this nomination was still pending and that the nominee is going to be teaching at a university (?) in the Washington, D.C. (?)area while waiting for the outcome. At the moment, I haven’t found that article again, but will post something else I did find. This is a link to an action alert that you can use to let your Senators know you want them to oppose the nomination:

Stop Pro-Abortion Lawyer Dawn Johnsen’s Nomination!

President Obama has nominated Dawn Johnsen to serve as an Assistant Attorney General to determine what is or isn’t Constitutional. Dawn Johnsen is an extremely divisive figure. She has worked for the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. She was the legal director for the National Abortion Rights Action League. She has compared pregnancy to slavery. She has argued that the government should strip the Catholic Church and other religious denominations of their tax exempt status because of their pro-life advocacy. She believes that a pre-born child has no separate existence apart from the mother. She has compared pro-life protesters to the Ku Klux Klan. She was heavily involved in the authorship of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would repeal every state and federal restriction on abortion. Johnsen has a long track record of intolerance to positions conflicting with her pro-abortion agenda. Type your name and contact information below, and hit “Enter”, to be taken to a page to write your Senators today. Tell them to vote against Dawn Johnsen’s nomination!

And next is the text that is provided for auto-sending to your Senators; the page seems to enable you to edit the text if you’d like.

Please Vote NO on Pro-Abortion Nominee Dawn Johnsen

I am writing to you to ask you to please oppose President Obama’s nomination of Dawn Johnsen to serve as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel.

Dawn Johnsen has a long history of extreme abortion advocacy that is out of step with the views of the majority of Americans.

Here are just a few examples of her extreme record on abortion:

– Johnsen has compared pregnancy to slavery. In 1989, she wrote that abortion restrictions such as the partial-birth abortion ban and parental notification laws result in “forced pregnancies”, which she claimed amounts to “involuntary servitude”.

– Johnsen was heavily involved in the authorship of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would repeal every state and federal restriction on abortion and further enshrine abortion as the law of the land.

– In a paper given to mark the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision Johnsen said the first priority of the progressive agenda was to “focus on the courts as the vehicle of desired change”. There is no room in the Department of Justice for this kind of politicization.

President Obama’s choice of Dawn Johnsen is one more violation of his campaign pledge to find common ground on abortion.

Please vote NO on Dawn Johnsen’s nomination! The American people deserve a Justice Department that is free from an extreme ideology that fails to see that women deserve better than abortion.

I would like a response to my message.

Susan B. Anthony List Activist

I don’t know much about the “Susan B. Anthony List” so if you know of any reason not to include that group among my sources, please let me know! You can find the group’s Web site at


Here are links to articles about the nomination: (March 20th, 2009) (April 21, 2009)
Congressman Asks Obama to Withdraw Pro-Abortion Dawn Johnsen’s Nomination

excerpt (please do try to find time to read the rest of it):

 .  .  .

Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, was part of a group of 63 lawmakers to previously ask Obama to withdraw the nomination and he sent his own letter today to further urge him to scrap Johnsen.

 .  .  . (April 25, 2009)
Is the Dawn Johnsen nomination in trouble? (May 22, 2009)
Filibuster Could Block Extreme Pro-Abort Obama Justice Pick Dawn Johnsen is the article that I was looking for, re: what the nominee is doing while waiting

Pro-Abortion Obama legal Pick Dawn Johnsen to Teach Class, Confirmation Waits

by Steven Ertelt, Editor

August 17, 2009

Washington, DC ( — With pro-abortion advocates dominating Congressional decision-making, pro-life advocates have scored a rare, albeit limited, victory. It appears they have successfully delayed a confirmation vote on Dawn Johnsen to the point that she is heading back to Indiana to teach a class.

Johnsen is the former NARAL legal director who is so radically pro-abortion that she has called women “fetal containers” and compared 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.

In May, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said President Barack Obama’s pro-abortion selection to head the Office of Legal Counsel does not have enough votes to be confirmed. In that position, Johnsen would provide legal advice to Obama and administration officials.

Johnsen is a professor at the Indiana University School of Law and because Reid can’t find 60 votes to stop a filibuster of her nomination, she is returning to the Hoosier state to teach a course.

She will teach a seminar this fall at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law and will commute weekly from Washington to Bloomington, Indiana while she awaits confirmation.

Debbie O’Leary, a spokeswoman for the law school, told the Legal Times blog that the seminar will focus on sexuality and the law, ironic given that abortion has played a role in delaying her nomination.

“Since she’s still on faculty, why not teach?” O’Leary said.

The course description, according to the blog, may lead pro-life advocates to further assume what agenda she will push if confirmed for the Obama administration.

The second and third-year law students will “explore governmental regulation of sexuality and reproduction in the United States. We will focus on regulation aimed at sexual activity, reproduction and sexual orientation, with particular attention to the constitutional protections afforded in those areas.”

The law school separately will work with Johnsen’s tenuous status.

“I think you have to be [flexible] if you expect someone in this position to teach,” O’Leary said.

Johnsen was the Legal Director for NARAL from 1988-1993.

Prior to her working for NARAL, Johnsen worked 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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