Liberal activists are putting more pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) this week to move on President Obama’s Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel nominee.
Dawn Johnsen, an Indiana University law professor, was nominated Feb. 11 and reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee March 19 along party lines. Several Senate Republicans and Democratic Sens. Arlen Specter (Pa.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.) have criticized Johnsen because of her vocal opposition to the Bush administration’s national security policies and her past work for the group formerly known as the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.
In a letter to Reid yesterday, leaders of almost 40 left-leaning organizations said the hold-up on Johnsen is “extraordinary and unacceptable.” The groups included the Human Rights Campaign, National Council of La Raza, People for the American Way and Alliance for Justice.
“Professor Johnsen has the experience, the integrity, and the intellect to head this critical office,” they wrote in the letter. “She should be confirmed without further delay. We understand the press of legislative business before the Senate. But further delay is untenable.”
Though Democrats have a 60 vote-majority, Reid may not have enough votes to end a Republican filibuster on Johnsen.
Specter and Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.) have not said how they will vote on the procedural motion to end debate, known as cloture.
If Specter and Pryor balk at voting with his party on the procedural vote, Democrats only have 58 votes. But Reid might be able to lean on Maine Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, who have not said how they would vote on cloture.