Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Cedarbaum’
Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Marty Lederman, a top official in the Office of Legal Counsel, is leaving the Justice Department to return to teaching.

Marty Lederman (Georgetown)

A Deputy Assistant Attorney General who joined the OLC in January 2009, Lederman will resume his teaching post at Georgetown University Law Center this fall, where he will teach a class on separation of powers, according to the Blog of Legal Times

Lederman is the second official to announce his departure from OLC in the past few weeks. Last month, acting Assistant Attorney General David Barron said he was leaving the office and would return to teaching at Harvard Law School.

Jonathan Cedarbaum, formerly a Deputy Assistant Attorney General, will take over as the acting head of OLC. The office has been without a Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for six years.

Lederman, who will remain at the Justice Department through August, said that he and Barron did not plan to stay at OLC for more than two years.

Lederman told BLT he is confident that Cedarbaum will do a “terrific” job and said OLC is fully staffed for the first time since the transition to the Obama administration, with about 20 line attorneys.

President Barack Obama’s nominee to head OLC, Dawn Johnsen, withdrew in April. Obama has not made a new nomination since Johnsen withdrew.

Additional reporting by Joe Palazzolo.

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jonathan G. Cedarbaum of the Office of Legal Counsel during a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on March 17, 2010. (Stephanie Woodrow/Main Justice)

Congress should consider revising the Virgin Islands’ proposed constitution so that it comports with the U.S. Constitution, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jonathan G. Cedarbaum of the Office of Legal Counsel said during a House hearing Wednesday.

Cedarbaum was one of nine people who testified during a House Natural Resources insular affairs, oceans and wildlife subcommittee hearing on the proposed Virgin Islands Constitution.

In October 1976, President Gerald Ford signed a law that established a process by which the people of the Virgin Islands and Guam could adopt a constitution for their local self-government. The Virgin Islands made four previous attempts to adopt a constitution, but none of them were successful.

On June 12 2007, the Virgin Islands residents elected members to the Fifth Constitutional Convention in the latest attempt to establish a constitution for the territory. Last year, the Fifth Constitutional Convention drafted a proposal and, on June 1, 2009, submitted it to Virgin Islands Gov. John P. de Jongh. After initially declining to forward the proposal to the president, de Jongh sent the draft to President Barack Obama in December.

Obama then asked the Justice Department for its views on the proposed constitution. Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs Ron Weich drafted a memo with his views and sent it to Obama. The president then submitted his comments and those from DOJ to Congress in advance of the hearing.

Both houses of Congress must vote to approve the document and Congress can modify the proposed constitution if it chooses. After the document receives congressional approval, voters in the Virgin Islands will have a chance to ratify the constitution before it is adopted.

The other panelists at the hearing Wednesday included de Jongh, Virgin Island Senate Minority Leader Usie R. Richards, Fifth Constitutional Convention President Gerald Luz James, II and Fifth Constitutional Convention Delegates Adelbert M. Bryan, Eugene A. Petersen, Lois Hassell-Habtes, Douglas Brady and Gerard Marlow Emanuel.

The DOJ’s memo touched on several areas of concern, which the president also noted in his letter of transmittal to Congress. During his testimony, Cedarbaum focused on three of them.

One of DOJ’s major objections stems from provisions that would give special privileges to “Native Virgin Islanders” and “Ancestral Native Virgin Islanders.” The document defines “native Virgin Islanders” as those born in the territory and “ancestral native Virgin Islanders” as those who can trace their ancestry back to someone who lived on the island prior to 1932. The constitution would give ancestral native Virgin Islanders an exemption from paying property taxes and also require candidates for governor or lieutenant governor to fall in to one of the two categories.

According to Cedarbaum, the provisions could potentially violate the equal protection clause in the U.S. Constitution.

“Because we find it difficult to discern a legitimate governmental purpose that would be rationally advanced by these provisions conferring legal advantages on certain groups defined by place and timing of birth, timing of residency, or ancestry we recommend that these provisions be removed,” Cedarbaum said. Other equal protection clause issues are raised by the residency requirements for office holders.

Cedarbaum said the DOJ was also concerned about the absence of an express recognition of U.S. sovereignty.

Local lawmakers who testified at the hearing said Congress should leave it up to the people of the Virgin Islands to draft their own constitution.

“As a native Virgin Islander, I believe with deep conviction that the Virgin Islands will fully come into its own … only when its people write, and consider, and ratify, their own constitution — a constitution by, of, and for all the people of the Virgin Islands,” de Jongh said.

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Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Fox News has identified the seven anonymous Justice Department lawyers who previously represented Guantánamo detainees or terrorism suspects.

Justice Department spokesman Matthew A. Miller confirmed the names to Fox News’ Mike Levine, but did not say whether any of the seven previously anonymous lawyers now work on issues related to Guantánamo detainees.

“Each of the nine people referenced in the letter filed legal briefs that are available by using something as simple as Google,” Miller told Fox News. “We will not participate in an attempt to drag people’s names through the mud for political purposes.”

Miller said “politics has overtaken facts and reality” in the battle over the lawyers’ identities. (Full statement below)

The current Justice Department employees who previously represented Guantánamo detainees or terrorism suspects are:

  • Tony West, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division.
  • Jonathan Cedarbaum, of the Office of Legal Counsel.
  • Eric Columbus, senior counsel in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General.
  • Karl Thompson, of the Office of Legal Counsel.
  • Joseph Guerra, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General.
  • Tali Farhadian, an official in the Office of the Attorney General.
  • Beth Brinkmann, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division.

Two other DOJ lawyers — Principal Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal and National Security Division Attorney Jennifer Daskal -  also formerly represented detainees, but their identities had already been known.

In response to the DOJ confirmation, Keep America Safe spokesman Aaron Harison said the organization still wants information on which of the lawyers works on detainee issues within the DOJ.

“The American people have a right to know whether lawyers who voluntarily flocked to Guantanamo to take up the cause of the terrorists are currently working on detainee issues in President Obama’s Justice Department,” Harison said. (Full statement below)

Details about the DOJ lawyers’ involvement in Guantánamo detainee cases are available in the article, which also points out that the Justice Department hired several lawyers who represented Guantánamo detainees during the George W. Bush administration.

Main Justice’s previous coverage of the controversy:

Miller’s full statement:

“On February 18, the Department sent a letter to Senators about political appointees who were involved in detainee-related litigation before joining the Department. As the letter stated, Department attorneys are subject to ethics and disclosure rules as required under both Department guidelines and the administration’s own ethics rules, which are the strongest in history.

“In the time since we sent that letter, politics has overtaken facts and reality. Each of the nine people referenced in the letter filed legal briefs that are available by using something as simple as Google. The names the Department is being asked to disclose are already in the public record, and can be easily found by anyone.

“We will not participate in an attempt to drag people’s names through the mud for political purposes. One of the hallmarks of our nation’s legal system is that attorneys provide faithful representation to all sorts of clients. As John Roberts said at his confirmation hearings, it is wrong to identify lawyers with the client or the views the lawyer advances for the client, and our history is replete with such examples, from John Adams representing British soldiers to Department of Defense JAG lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees. Department of Justice attorneys work around the clock to keep this country safe, and it is offensive that their patriotism is being questioned, just as it was offensive when people questioned the patriotism of JAG lawyers representing detainees or the Supreme Court Justices who, by majority votes, ruled in favor of detainees in cases during the previous administration.”

Keep America Safe spokesman Harison’s full statement:

“Today, after much public outcry, the Department of Justice finally and reluctantly disclosed the names of the Al Qaeda Seven. We regret that they still refuse to tell the American people whether any of these lawyers are currently working on detainee issues inside the Department.  The American people have a right to know whether lawyers who voluntarily flocked to Guantanamo to take up the cause of the terrorists are currently working on detainee issues in President Obama’s Justice Department.   Attorney General Holder’s assertion that hiring former terrorist lawyers is just like hiring lawyers who used to defend white collar criminals demonstrates once again that, despite the President’s rhetoric, the Obama Administration does not understand the dangers of treating terrorism like a law enforcement matter.”

This story has been updated.