President Barack Obama is set to nominate a D.C. lawyer as the next chief of the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Virginia Seitz, a partner at the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP, is expected to get the nod early next year. The post has not had a Senate-confirmed leader since Jack Goldsmith resigned in 2003.
The first Obama nominee for the post, Dawn Johnsen, withdrew in April after facing Republican criticism for more than a year. The office is currently led by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Cedarbaum.
Seitz is a member of the American Constitution Society, a left-leaning legal group. She also clerked for Justice William Brennan, who was a member of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing. Seitz is married to acting Deputy Solicitor General Roy McLeese.
The D.C. lawyer focuses on labor, employment and administrative law at her firm. Conservatives told the Journal that her lack of experience with national security law could draw concern from Republicans.
OLC gives legal advice to the president and other administration officials on a range of issues, including national security matters. The office came under fire for authorizing the use of harsh interrogation techniques against terrorism suspects during the administration of President George W. Bush. Johnsen later faced Republican opposition over her aversion to the Bush administration’s national security policies.
The Obama administration intends to name White House national-security lawyer Caroline Krass as Seitz’s Principal Deputy, according to the Journal. She previously served in OLC during the Bush and Clinton administrations. They also plan to appoint New York University law professor Cristina M. Rodriguez to the office.