Pro-abortion nominee Dawn Johnsen withdraws bid for Office of Legal Council

Prof. Dawn Johnsen.
Prof. Dawn Johnsen.


Dawn Johnsen announced her decision last Friday to withdraw her bid for the White House Office of Legal Council, citing political delays and opposition. The law professor was outspoken in her advocacy for legalized abortion, including partial-birth abortion.

“Unfortunately, my nomination has met with lengthy delays and political opposition that… prevent OLC (the Office of Legal Counsel) from functioning at full strength,” Johnsen said in a statement April 9. “I hope that the withdrawal of my nomination will allow this important office to be filled promptly."

Johnsen, who has faced criticism in the past for her strong pro-abortion stance, was nominated the first time by President Obama in 2009. Though her nomination was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in an 11 to 7 vote, it eventually expired. Due to bureaucratic maneuvering, she never officially served in that position.

According the California Catholic Daily, the nomination has held back in the Senate Judiciary Committee four times due to a lack of consensus on a date for the full Senate to take up confirmation.

Because of the repeated delays, a letter from hundreds of law professors was signed on Feb. 1 and sent to Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), urging him to speed along Johnsen's nomination. Signatories of the letter included professors from Catholic universities, such as Santa Clara University, the University of San Francisco, and Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

The Associated Press reported on Saturday that Johnsen's nomination had been stalled so long that she resumed teaching at Indiana University while commuting back and forth between Bloomington, Ind. and Washington D.C.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, in April 2009 called Johnsen's view on abortion  “bizzare.”

“Dawn Johnsen does not represent mainstream America or the type of common ground abortion policy President Obama promised this nation,” Dannenfelser said last April.

“Her bizarre characterizations of pregnancy as 'slavery' and mothers as 'losers in the contraceptive lottery' expose an unacceptable disdain for commonsense abortion restrictions and motherhood in general. Furthermore, Johnsen's opposition to existing federal restrictions like the ban on partial-birth abortion casts doubt on her ability to perform her duties faithfully as the head of the Office of Legal Counsel.”

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