Dawn Johnsen, a hero to some liberal lawyers and a failed nominee to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, says she would have been happy to serve in the job on a temporary basis.
In a speech Friday, Johnsen addressed publicly for the first time the question of a recess appointment by President Barack Obama. The Herald-Times of Bloomington, Ind., reports that Johnsen said she would have accepted such an appointment but that it “wasn’t a possibility.”
Johnsen didn’t specific why a recess appointment wasn’t possible, and she did not return a call today requesting further comment. The White House also did not respond to a request for comment.
“I would have welcomed a recess appointment,” Johnsen said, according to The Herald-Times. “I believe it would be in our nation’s best interest for the president to be able to use that authority in the future when there is unwarranted obstruction by senators who are trying to not even have a vote on a nominee. I do regret that wasn’t a possibility for me, because I would have accepted that, and I’m hopeful in the coming years the president will use his recess appointment power.”
The failure of her nomination and the decision not to appoint her during a congressional recess were major disappointments for liberals because of Johnsen’s views on the legal aspects of antiterrorism policy, such as whether to try suspects in civilian courts. Obama has not named another nominee for the OLC position.
Johnsen, a law professor at Indiana University, Bloomington, told the liberal American Constitution Society in June that she had no regrets about her own advocacy. “One should not live one’s life deciding whether and how to write such briefs based on calculated judgments about possible future political payoffs,” she said.