“The argument that women who become pregnant have in some sense consented to the pregnancy belies reality…and others who are the inevitable losers in the contraceptive lottery no more ‘consent’ to pregnancy than pedestrians ‘consent’ to being struck by drunk drivers.’”
- Dawn Johnsen, in a Supreme Court amicus brief she authored in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services
There is no need to reduce the number of abortions
“Progressives must not portray all abortions as tragedies. . . Senator Hillary Clinton, in a 2005 speech commendable for setting forth a prochoice, pro-prevention, pro-family agenda, took the aspiration a step in the wrong direction when she called for policy changes so that abortion ‘does not ever have to be exercised or only in very rare circumstances.”
- Dawn Johnsen in The Constitution in 2020
Perhaps most egregiously, Johnsen attacked the Supreme Court’s decision in Gonzales v. Carhart, which upheld Congress' ban on partial-birth abortion, a procedure the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan described as "too close to infanticide." Johnsen asserted that because of the Supreme Court’s decision “every first-year law student’s constitutional law casebook” now contains “gruesome descriptions designed to make abortion sound like infanticide.”
President Obama has promised to hold judicial nominees to a standard—a standard that respects the Constitution and resists the temptation to substitute personal ideology for legal reasoning. While the Office of Legal Counsel is not a judicial nomination, it has the important duty of providing the Executive Branch and the U.S. Department of Justice with legal counsel. The OLC head should be held to the same standard.
Johnsen does not meet this standard. Her intemperate positions and indifference towards those who hold contrary views do not reflect the sober judgment required to lead the Office of Legal Counsel. She is divisive, partisan and will alienate those who do not hold her radical agenda.
Perhaps President Obama is sincere in his desire to bring both sides together on the abortion issue, but every day Dawn Johnsen heads the OLC is a day that the President will have no credibility with the pro-life community.