President Barack Obama plans to renominate six people whose names the Senate returned to the White House last month, a White House official said today. The six include Dawn Johnsen, picked to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, two other Justice Department nominees, and two nominees for district court seats.
One liberal advocacy group interpreted the move as a sign that Obama will not bend to Senate Republicans who have held up the nominations.
“President Obama made an excellent choice in Professor Johnsen to lead OLC,” said Marge Baker, executive vice president of People for the American Way, “and today he’s shown his willingness to stand on principle and call the Republicans on their attack and delay tactics.”
Johnsen, who teaches law at Indiana University at Bloomington, has been criticized for her advocacy on behalf of abortion rights and civil liberties. Most Senate Republicans say she’s too extreme to lead the prestigious Office of Legal Counsel, a position once held by William Rehnquist before his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, and they invoked a Senate rule to return her nomination and the five others to the White House on Dec. 24.
The two other Justice Department nominees are Duke University law professor Christopher Schroeder to head the Office of Legal Policy and Chicago litigator Mary Smith, formerly of Schoeman, Updike & Kaufman, to head the Tax Division.
The two district court nominees are Louis Butler Jr., a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, for the Western District of Wisconsin and Edward Chen, a U.S. magistrate judge, for the Northern District of California.
Obama has not issued a statement about renominating the six. The official who spoke about the administration’s plans did so on the condition of anonymity.