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DOJ Tax Division Nominee Returned To President
By Andrew Ramonas | August 5, 2022 10:36 pm

For the second time, the Senate sent back to President Barack Obama his embattled nominee to lead the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

Mary L. Smith (Chicago Bar)

Mary L. Smith has waited more than a year for the full Senate to consider her nomination. She faced stiff opposition from Republicans who were concerned about her lack of tax law experience. Smith was a partner at the Schoeman, Updike & Kaufman LLP and former in-house counsel to Tyco International Ltd., the international security products and services conglomerate.

All pending presidential nominations are returned to the White House if the Senate recesses for more than 30 days and does not vote to hold them over. Smith was not among the nominees that the Senate approved to hold over before it left for its month-long August recess Thursday. The president must re-nominate Smith if he wants the Senate to consider her again.

Obama initially nominated Smith for the post in April 2009. The Senate Judiciary Committee first approved her in June 2009 without any Republican support. Her nomination was returned to the White House for the first time in December. The president re-nominated her in January, and she was reported out of committee again in February without any backing from Republicans.

Smith was the only Obama administration Assistant Attorney General nominee still waiting for a vote in the Senate. Indiana University law professor Dawn Johnsen, who had faced similar opposition to her nomination to head the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, withdrew from consideration in April.

Smith is currently Senior Counsel to Assistant Attorney General Tony West of the Civil Division. A Cherokee Nation member, she would have been the highest-ranking American Indian ever to work at the DOJ.


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