Saperstein: “Today, I ... express full support for Ms. Johnsen’s confirmation. Her appointment will begin the essential process of restoring integrity to the Office of Legal Counsel, specifically, and the Department of Justice as a whole.”
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WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 2009 – Today, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, sent a letter on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism to all members of the United States Senate, urging them to confirm expeditiously Dawn Johnsen as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice. The full text of the letter follows:
Dear United States Senator,
On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose 900 congregations encompass nearly 1.5 million Reform Jews, I write to express support for the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice.
Ms. Johnsen is supremely qualified for this critical post. After a distinguished legal career, focused on reproductive rights, Ms. Johnsen served in the Office of Legal Counsel during the Clinton Administration, first as Deputy Assistant Attorney General from 1993 to 1996 and then as Acting Assistant Attorney General from 1997 to 1998. Since then, Johnsen has been a distinguished professor of constitutional law at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington. All of these experiences – particularly her familiarity with the OLC – make her particularly well-suited for this appointment.
Ms. Johnsen’s nomination has been lauded by legal experts and officials from across the political and ideological spectrum, including Walter Dellinger, head of the OLC from 1993 to 1996 and United States Solicitor General from 1996-1997 under President Bill Clinton and Doug Kmiec, principal deputy in the OLC from 1985 to 1989 under President George H.W. Bush. Ms. Johnsen has garnered strong support from the civil rights, labor, human rights, women’s and environmental communities.
The debate over Ms. Johnsen’s nomination is not about her strong credentials or her expertise. Rather, critics have focused on her vocal opposition to torture and support for reproductive rights. However, these positions reflect Ms. Johnsen’s commitment to individual rights and fundamental liberties under the law.
In early April, we sent a letter to you and other members of the U.S. Senate contending that Ms. Johnsen’s confirmation should not be delayed by an ideological, partisan battle nor should she be blocked from office because of her support for reproductive rights. Today, I reiterate this sentiment and express full support for Ms. Johnsen’s confirmation. Her appointment will begin the essential process of restoring integrity to the Office of Legal Counsel, specifically, and the Department of Justice as a whole.
Therefore, I urge you to ensure that a vote on Ms. Johnsen’s nomination is not delayed and that her confirmation proceeds expeditiously. I strongly encourage you to vote in favor of her confirmation.
Rabbi David Saperstein
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis.