Patterico's Pontifications

1/5/2009

Obama Picks More Clinton Officials for DOJ

Filed under: Law,Obama — DRJ @ 10:45 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

From the LA Times, Barack Obama has named four officials to his legal team:

Elena Kagan, Harvard Law School Dean — Solicitor General.

Dawn Johnsen, Indiana law school professor — Head, Office of Legal Counsel.

David Ogden, Obama transition team head — Deputy Attorney General.

Tom Perrelli, Obama transition team deputy head — Associate Attorney General.

All four are former Clinton Administration officials. Ogden was Chief of Staff for Attorney General Janet Reno, followed by a position in the DOJ Civil Division from 1999 until 2001. Perilli was counsel to Reno from 1997 to 1999 and then served as deputy assistant attorney general in charge of the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division.

Kagan was Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council (1997-99) and Associate Counsel to the President (1995-96). Prior to accepting a professorship at Harvard Law School, Kagan taught at the University of Chicago Law School, apparently when Obama also taught there. The Office of the Solicitor General is responsible for representing the U.S. in Supreme Court and federal appellate cases. If confirmed, Kagan will be the first female Solicitor General but she reportedly has never argued a case in the Supreme Court.

Johnsen is also a former Clinton Administration member, a legal director for the National Abortion Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL Pro-Choice America), and Staff Counsel Fellow for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project in New York. Johnsen has been especially critical of the Bush Administration, including John Yoo’s memo and Bush’s Supreme Court appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito because of the threat they pose to Roe v Wade.

No doubt the Clintons approve of these picks. The left should be especially happy with Johnsen.

— DRJ

22 Responses to “Obama Picks More Clinton Officials for DOJ”

  1. Whose administration is this?

    And is this Hope and Change?

    Eric Blair (3e2520)

  2. time to hit up that early january gun show, and buy up everything you can afford.

    /or you can just *trust* Juggy.

    redc1c4 (27fd3e)

  3. If confirmed, Kagan will be the first female Solicitor General but she reportedly has never argued a case in the Supreme Court.

    No worries. I’m sure her credentials and her sex will get her through.

    J."Trashman" Peden (60f585)

  4. Hmmmm. . . submit those appointments requiring Senate confirmation with (relative) moderates who can skate through then pack those non-confirmable appointments with the leftist activists. Pretty good politics; let’s see if it ends up being good policy.

    JVW (bff0a4)

  5. Good point, JVW.

    DRJ (345e40)

  6. Kagan will be the first female Solicitor General but she reportedly has never argued a case in the Supreme Court.

    But she has seen the Supreme Court from her stretch limo.

    Perfect Sense (9d1b08)

  7. No Gorelick?

    No Sandy Berger?

    Rob Crawford (b5d1c2)

  8. We have to call them the Clinton Administration III. Because that is what they will be. And except for cigars and interns, fated to be even more scandal-ridden.

    Peg C. (48175e)

  9. Ms. Johnsen was my con law professor. Based on her personality, I think she’s more suited to the Obama administration than the Clinton administration. She’s very measured and egalitarian in her approach to problems and conflict. I wish her the best.

    Phil (223888)

  10. Elena Kagan, Harvard Law School Dean — Solicitor General

    A friend of mine and I were discussing this last night, and she – being a law-school grad – remarked that Kagan may turn down the appointment if she were more comfortable in academia. I responded by asking if “Dean” was the top spot at Harvard School of Law.

    ‘Well, no,’ she replied.

    ‘Well, after being Solicitor General, what sort of position do you think she could end up with at Harvard School of Law?’

    Pause was taken, as the horror of someone taking such a vital role merely to get the next job up the ladder at Harvard washed over us.

    On the bright side, it means she’ll be utterly inexperienced, and thus should be a fairly easy mark for the first few cases she argues.

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  11. Looks like Obama’s got some backsplatter on him from Richardson

    Look how many Obama administration scandals we have before we even have an Obama administration.

    SPQR (72771e)

  12. Is Rahm back from Africa yet?

    Pablo (99243e)

  13. Look how many Obama administration scandals we have before we even have an Obama administration.

    I wonder whether Zoe Baird can be reached for a quote.

    Steverino (69d941)

  14. Solicitor General is a stepping stone to a Supreme Court appointment. Juggy’s hope to kill every baby possible apparently is the one thing that has not changed. (Johnsen is also a former Clinton Administration member, a legal director for the National Abortion Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL Pro-Choice America), and Staff Counsel Fellow for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project in New York.)

    nk (d08690)

  15. A few clarifications:

    First, all four announced appointments require Senate Confirmation. They are all political positions.

    Second, Kagen is being positioned to take the first Supreme Court vacancy. She’s gotten very positive comments from conservative legal experts, and has a history of appreciating a diversity of views on Constitutional issues while at Harvard. The SG’s office has a staff of high quality Deputy Solicitors, and I expect she allow them to argue most of the cases before the Supreme Court early in her tenure, and she may argue some of the low profile cases simply to get her feet wet. I don’t expect that given her lack of courtroom experience that she would want to take on a high profile matter right at the outset.

    Third, Johnson at OLC is going to be less signficant as the Obama administration allows power to recede back to Congress. OLC was important to the Bush Administration’s effort to reassert Executive Authority under Article II.

    Prior to that, the main function of OLC has always been to resolve conflicts between Executive Branch entities that have a disagreement about what the law requires. Since the Justice Dept. can’t sue the Labor Dept., there had to be an entity in the Gov’t that had the final word over any such disputes. That is OLC.

    Fourth — and IMO — most significant, the new Dep.AG has ZERO criminal law experience. He ran the Civil Division under Reno, and was later her Chief of Staff. By all indications he’s a quality guy, but the Dep. AG really runs the day-to-day operations of the entire Dept., and to hae someone with no criminal or national security law background in that position is significant.

    What I suspect it signals is a renewed emphasis on the regulatory elements of the Justice Dept — Civil Rights, Environment and Natural Resources, Tax, and Anti-Trust.

    Not announced yesterday were Assitant AGs for the Criminal Division and for the National Security Division. Those will be interesting when they are made.

    WLS Shipwrecked (26b1e5)

  16. […] pointed out at Patterico’s Pontifications: Ogden was Chief of Staff for Attorney General Janet Reno, followed by a position in the DOJ Civil […]

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  17. Obama has no place else to go for appointments. He has no “team” because he has no history. He’s done nothing but run for office. The Carter people are too old so he goes for law professors or Clinton people. Maybe a few of them learned from Clinton’s mistakes.

    So far, while he has some scandals still popping up, he has done OK and made no huge gaffes. My expectations are low and he has met them so far.

    Mike K (531ff4)

  18. “Obama has no place else to go for appointments. ”

    Its likely that if he grabs people with prior federal executive experience he’ll go with clinton people, though he has some bush people in too. Bush reached as far back as the nixon admin when filling his cabinet. Seems odd for someone to come in with a team that has never worked at a prior admin.

    imdw (aacaa9)

  19. A friend of mine and I were discussing this last night, and she – being a law-school grad – remarked that Kagan may turn down the appointment if she were more comfortable in academia. I responded by asking if “Dean” was the top spot at Harvard School of Law.

    ‘Well, no,’ she replied.

    Okay, I know this is a side issue, but I’m not aware of any position higher than Dean at HLS. I guess you’re subordinate to the university president (and at the mercy of your own fractious faculty), but as far as the law school goes, you’re the boss.

    Zara (ba5a7c)

  20. […] Obama Cabinet roundup Patterico has a heads-up on four more Clintonistas being named to Barack Obama’s legal team. The antithesis of “change” marches on as more former administration officials are […]

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  21. Change that no one with a brain could possibly EVER believe in.

    Icy Texan (b7d162)

  22. I heard from someone that she is anti abortion. I can’t find any informatioin concerning this. Anybody know?

    Bill Back (53d1c0)


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