Senate Democrats are hopeful that the next couple of the weeks will bring advancements in approving President Obama’s executive nominees, 200 of which are stalled in the Senate. Two of these nominees are surgeon general nominee Regina Benjamin, and Office of Legal Counsel head Dawn Johnsen.
Benjamin, who has an impressive background in advocating for public health—which includes being a recipient of the Nelson Mandela award for Health and Human Rights–awaits approval from the full Senate. She was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Wednesday October 8. If approved, Benjamin would serve as the nation’s chief health advocate.
Johnsen, who is a professor of constitutional law, still has a difficult road ahead of her. Republicans have protested her nomination because of her past work in abortion rights and her critiques of the Bush administration’s interrogation tactics. We previously blogged about Johnsen’s nomination here and here.
Both Johnsen and Benjamin have stood up for women’s rights, and are more than qualified for their potential positions. We hope that the Senate will act quickly to confirm these nominees.
Last week, we blogged about Dawn Johnsen’s nomination to head the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice and how anti-choice activists were trying to stall the committee vote that would send her nomination to be voted upon by the full Senate. We’re happy to report that the Senate Judiciary Committee approved her nomination by 12-11 (Senator Specter abstained from the committee vote). Now, her confirmation will be voted upon by the entire Senate, although that vote hasn’t been scheduled yet. It’s critical that your senators know that you support President Obama’s nomination of a vocal pro-choice advocate to head this office, so please contact them today.
Additionally, Elena Kagan was confirmed last week as the U.S. Solicitor General, making her the first woman in that position. Ms. Kagan previously served as the dean of Harvard Law School and, in her role as solicitor general, will represent the federal government before the U.S. Supreme Court.
President Obama’s nomination of Dawn Johnsen to serve as the Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) marks an important landmark in American legal history. Dawn Johnsen has long been a champion of reproductive justice and an ardent supporter of the rights of pregnant women. Since her nomination, she has promised to take the OLC in a dramatically new direction from what it was under the Bush Administration. She is an extraordinary legal scholar, attorney, and women’s rights activist, making her position in the OLC incredibly important for Women’s Law Project supporters. Johnsen is a uniquely qualified candidate, as she already served in the OLC during the Clinton Administration and is an expert on executive power and the role and obligation of the OLC in restricting presidential decisions to their lawful scope.
Her nomination, however, which is expected to be voted on tomorrow, Thursday, March 19, may face some trouble. Opponents in Washington have attacked her strong stance on abortion, threatening this important appointment. We must urge our Senators to confirm Dawn Johnsen for this instrumental position. Please let your senator know that you want her/him to vote to confirm Dawn Johnson by sending a message here.