President Barack Obama will not re-nominate his former choice for the Justice Department Tax Division, whose nomination the Senate most recently sent back to the White House in August, a White House official told Main Justice on Tuesday.
Mary L. Smith, whose nomination was returned to the president twice by the Senate, will “pursue other opportunities,” the official said. She is currently Senior Counsel to Assistant Attorney General Tony West of the Civil Division. Smith, a Cherokee Nation member, would have been the highest-ranking American Indian ever to work at the DOJ.
The former nominee faced resistance 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.
The president first tapped Smith for the post in April 2009. The Senate Judiciary Committee initially endorsed her in June 2009 without any backing from Republicans. Her nomination was returned to the White House for the first time in December. Obama re-nominated her in January, and she was reported out of committee again in February with no Republican support.
Smith was the last Obama administration Assistant Attorney General nominee waiting for a vote in the Senate when her name was returned to the White House in August. 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.