Kathryn Lopez

If you still think that President Barack Obama is about hope and change and moms and apple pie and nothing objectionable or radical, consider his nominee for head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Dawn Johnsen.

Her record sets off many alarms, with the most distressing sirens arising from her views on abortion. Regardless of what the New York Times might write, (they called her position on abortion "hardly unusual" in a recent glowing endorsement,) I'd like to think that you'd have to attend a wacky women's studies lecture in order to find people who equate pregnancy with slavery.

Johnsen is the former legal director of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America, in the hopes of fooling people). While there, in a case involving a Missouri law that limited the use of taxpayer money and state resources for abortion, Johnsen called restrictions on abortion "involuntary servitude," arguing that, with them "the state has conscripted (an expectant mother's) body for its own ends." This leads to, she wrote, "forced pregnancy," which is a violation of the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery. Pregnancy, she declared, "requires a woman to provide continuous physical service to the fetus in order to further the state's asserted interest" in the unborn child. She argued that a mother "is constantly aware for nine months that her body is not her own."

That's not unusual?

At the very least it's highly partisan, which presents a big problem. The little-known but highly influential task of heading the OLC requires being an "administration's lawyer's lawyer." As former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy explained the job, in a recent piece for National Review on Johnsen, "It authoritatively interprets the law for the attorney general and, in doing so, drives administration legal policy." It's the most unideological post there is in a presidential administration. Which is why Johnsen should be the last person filling it. Besides her radically anti-life past, there's also her record with the Clinton administration (where she served in -- surprise-- the Office of Legal Counsel,), a resume that suggests she's anything but the breath of fresh air that President Obama has promised.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.
 


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