Early on, we were alarmed by President Obama’s selection of the radical Dawn Johnsen to head the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. We have also wondered (based on the reporting of the Wasington Post’s Barton Gellman) about Johnsen’s candor.
Today Johnsen’s radicalism and her lack of candor were both on display before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The issue was Johnsen’s position on the relevance of the Thirteenth Amendment to the abortion issue.
Here is what Johnsen once wrote in a brief to the Supreme Court:
Statutes that curtail [a woman's] abortion choice are disturbingly suggestive of involuntary servitude, prohibited by the Thirteenth Amendment, in that forced pregnancy requires a woman to provide continuous physical service to the fetus in order to further the state’s asserted interest.
Here is Johnsen’s testimony today about that brief:
I made no Thirteenth Amendment argument. I can state categorically I do not believe the Thirteenth Amendment is relevant at all.
Senator Specter, who is pro-abortion, told Johnsen that he did not understand her answer. He was being polite. Although Johnsen’s brief did not argue that restrictions on access to abortions violate the Thriteenth Amendment, it did argue by analogy from that amendment. It is therefore disingenous for her to deny haveing made a Thirteenth Amendment arguemnt.
Moreover, at the time she filed the brief in question (20 years ago) Johnsen certainly thought the Thirteenth Amendment was relevant; otherwise she would not have cited it. Perhaps she now “categoricaly” believes otherwise. If so, she should admit that she made a Thirteenth Amendment argument, say that she has changed her mind, and attempt to explain why.
Johnsen should also explain whether she stands by this appalling language that also appears in her brief:
The woman] is constantly aware for nine months that her body is not wholly her own: the state has conscripted her body for its own ends. Thus, abortion restrictions “reduce pregnant women to no more than fetal containers.
Johnsen’s appointment is consistent with the emerging (and entirely predictable) trend of the Obama administration — appoint non-radical liberals and a few centrists to cabinet level positions, and then populate key sub-cabinet jobs with radicals.
Via Andy McCarthy.
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