Jean M Schmidt

Office of Legal Counsel Nominee Dawn Johnson - May 14, 2009

Jean M Schmidt
May 14, 2009— U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC
Congressional floor speech
Print friendly

Thank you so much, Congressman King.

You are so right about this very contentious nomination. This position has been called the Attorney General's lawyer. The Justice Department's Web site explains, "The Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel provides authoritative legal advice to the President and to all executive branch agencies. The Office drafts legal opinions of the Attorney General and also provides its own written opinions and oral advice in response to requests from the Counsel to the President, the various agencies of the executive branch, and offices within the Department.

Such requests typically deal with legal issues of particular complexity and importance or about which two or more agencies are in disagreement. The Office also is responsible for providing legal advice to the executive branch on all constitutional questions and reviewing pending legislation for constitutionality.

All executive orders and proclamations proposed to be issued by the President are reviewed by the Office of Legal Counsel for form and legality, as are various other matters that require the President's formal approval.

In addition to serving as, in effect, outside counsel for the other agencies of the Executive Branch, the Office of Legal Counsel also functions as general counsel for the Department itself."

Congressman King, you are absolutely right that this individual will have the ear of the President because this position provides authoritative legal advice to the President and all executive branch agencies.

The AAG for the OLC is quite influential when evaluating existing laws and determining legal implications of legislative and administrative proposals. It is not a position for which an ideologue would be well suited.

I really want to go to that end because this, of all the nominations that have come to our attention so far, has really disturbed me the most. And it's disturbed me because, as most people know, one of the things and the heartstrings that I have is my position on life.

I believe that we cannot question when life begins or when it should end. We have to understand that life has value from conception to natural death. Only if we want to wage war against poverty, only when we want to make sure that each and every person in the world has the opportunity to be the best person that they can be, only when we give people the freedom to be what they want to be can this happen if we understand that that freedom begins at conception and that freedom must continue through its natural conclusion.

But this individual holds a much different view on those positions. So I really want to talk for just a few moments about what I call, Life According to Dawn Johnsen. I want to talk about some things that have been said by this individual.

"Pregnancy is equivalent to slavery." "Statutes that curtail her abortion choice are disturbingly suggestive of involuntary servitude, prohibited by the 13th 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," Dawn Johnsen, Supreme Court amicus brief that she authored in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services. I have to be silent for a minute so you can digest the coldness of that statement.

"Protecting life makes women into no more than fetal containers," is another one of her beliefs. "The woman is constantly aware for 9 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," Dawn Johnsen, Supreme Court amicus brief that she authored in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services.

I don't even know how to respond to that. As a mother, yeah, as soon as I felt life, I understood that I had a partner I was going to carry for the next 9 months. That experience only enabled me to begin the love that I have for my daughter and now that I see for her wonderful son. Yeah, pregnancy changes us because it gives us life.

"Abortion brings relief," is another one of her statements. "The experience is no longer traumatic; the response of most women to the experience is relief," Dawn Johnsen, Supreme Court amicus brief that she authored in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services. I've talked to women who have had abortions, and they have a much different view.

"Those that become pregnant are losers." This one really stings me. She says, "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 pedestriansconsent' to being struck by drunk drivers," Dawn Johnsen, Supreme Court amicus brief that she authored in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services.

I don't see women who are pregnant as losers. I see their winning capabilities of having that life inside of them, being a life that will carry on and continue for generations to come.

Another one: "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 pro-choice, 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 have to ever be exercised or only in very rare circumstances," Dawn Johnsen in the Constitution in 2020.

These are her statements. I'm not making these up, Congressman. These are her statements, Madam Speaker.

"Pro-life supporters are comparable to the Ku Klux Klan," that's another one of her statements. And she says, "The terrorist behavior of petitioners is remarkably similar to the conspiracy of violence and intimidation carried out by the Ku Klux Klan," Dawn Johnsen, Supreme Court amicus brief that she authored in Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic.

I can't believe that she would say these things. But again, these are her words, not mine.

Some of her positions and comments, questionable legal arguments, including the assertion that abortion bans might have undermine the 13th Amendment, which banned slavery.

This is a woman who was so entrenched with NARAL and the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project, she's compared pregnancy to involuntary servitude, described pregnant women as losers in the contraceptive lottery, and criticized Senator Clinton for then claiming to keep abortions, traumatic experiences, rare.

This is a woman who doesn't have the same view of life that most Americans have. Yes, this is a sensitive issue. But most Americans understand that life is sacred and must be protected. And I believe that most Americans want someone who is the legal counsel of the President to not have such polarizing views. I believe that they want someone that will step back and evaluate decisions based on their constitutionality and their legality and not put forth their own agenda.

This is a person who at every step along her way has put forth her own very pro-abortion agenda in each and everything that she has done. This is not the right person for this job. And I would only hope that this administration changes its position.

Speech from