Republicans on Dawn Johnsen: “Raging Ideologue Who Can’t See Straight”?

Last night, Rachel Maddow and Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at, slickly break down Republican opposition to Dawn Johnsen, President Obama’s pick for Assistant Attorney General for the now famous Office of Legal Counsel (OLC – where the "torture memos" came from).

Questioning whether Republicans’ intense anger towards Johnsen is a result of her support for reproductive health and rights access for women (however far back in her career Republicans needed to reach) or her stance on Bush’s torture policies, Lithwick nails it when she says Republicans are looking to frame her as a "raging ideologue who can’t see straight."  

What does Johnsen’s fearsome support for reproductive rights look like? Well, in an effort to tarnish Johnsen’s qualifications, Sen. John Cornyn points to a footnote in an amicus brief Johnsen wrote twenty years ago: "Abortion restrictions reduce pregnant women to fetal containers."

You can watch these two amazing women lay it out here:

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  • invalid-0

    Here’s a reality check for ya.

    Johnsen’s “fearsome support for reproductive rights” “looks like” a little more than “a footnote in an amicus brief” from twenty years ago.

    It is the majority of her career.

    From her bio on the Indiana University Maurer School of Law website:

    Legal Director, National Abortion & Reproductive Rights Action League (currently NARAL Pro-Choice America) (1988-1993)

    – Staff Counsel Fellow, American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project, New York (1987-1988)

    In light of this fact, certainly you can see why people in the anti-abortion camp would be against her nomination.

  • amie-newman

    in the post. Thank you for listing some of her previous positions and expounding on her support for reproductive health and rights. 

    I did not mean to imply that the footnote was her sole showing of support for reproductive rights. Only that was what Republicans noted as being dire and as one reason to FILIBUSTER her nomination (!).



    Amie Newman

    Managing Editor, RH Reality Check

  • invalid-0

    Well, I was impressed that Rachel Maddow said the word “abortion” several times during the segment. I was a little annoyed by her question to AnnMarie Cox (sp?) as to why abortion was an issue all of a sudden. Especially since I personally wrote her and complained of her lack of coverage of the early reproductive rights battles of the Obama administration, including the repealing of the Global Gag rule (my own Senator tried to pass an amendment extending it) and the contraception battles in the stimulus package.

    There were abortion law battles in many states this past election, and struggles are still occurring over personhood laws and the like. An why did she think Obama had to change the law on stem cell research? What about the month long comment period just ending on whether he should repeal that HHS conscience rule?

    Suddenly abortion is an an issue over Sebelius only? I don’t think so. Sigh. I am a huge Maddow fan. I hope think she is great on coverage of almost all progressive issues, except for reproductive rights. Maybe this is the beginning of a new era.

  • invalid-0

    I thought I previewed it enough. Oh, well.

    Sebelius and Johnsen, obviously.