Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) just held a conference call with reporters to discuss the nomination (and threatened filibuster) of Dawn Johnsen, President Obama’s designated chief of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Council.
Whitehouse is a member of the Judiciary Committee and has repeatedly spoken out on Johnsen’s behalf. Though it’s uncertain whether Republicans will ultimately seek to block Johnsen’s nomination, Whitehouse is prepared in the event that they do. “I actually have a little bit of ammunition gathered in the event that I happen to be…on the floor defending this,” Whitehouse said.Whitehouse is armed with a surfeit of statements from a number of Republican senators, including one by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) who once said that no presidential nomination should ever be filibustered
Whitehouse said he hasn’t yet spoken with the remaining four Republican members of the Gang of 14–John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME)–to ask if they still adhere to the principle that presidential nominees should receive a floor vote.
Our attempts to contact all of these senators have thusfar been unsuccessful.
Whitehouse added that he thinks recently released torture memos (and the soon to be released Justice Department, Office of Professional Responsibility report on the conduct of the Bush OLC) might put a damper on any GOP enthusiasm for a filibuster.
Today’s call was organized by the Alliance for Justice, an alliance of 85 civil rights groups, which strongly supports Johnsen’s nomination.