From the American Association for Justice news release:
President-elect Barack Obama yesterday named four individuals to top DOJ positions. Media reports indicated the most controversial pick was Indiana University law professor Dawn E. Johnsen, selected by Obama to head the Office of Legal Counsel. Other nominees are Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan, who becomes the first woman nominated to be solicitor general, David W. Ogden, who Obama tapped as Deputy Attorney General, and Thomas J. Perrelli, the choice for Associate Attorney General to head DOJ’s Civil Division.
McClatchy (1/6, Gordon) reports that with the nominations Obama “signaled that he intends to roll back Bush administration counterterrorism policies authorizing harsh interrogation techniques, warrantless spying and indefinite detentions of terrorism suspects.” McClatchy adds, “Walter Dellinger, a Duke University law professor, said that Johnsen’s appointment ‘sends a very strong message that the administration intends to make sure that its power is exercised in conformity with constitutional rights and respect for civil liberties.'”
The Washington Post (1/6, A2, Johnson, Barnes), meanwhile, reports that the four nominees are “pragmatic leaders who are likely to reverse some of the more divisive policies of the Bush administration.” The Post reports that Johnsen “who led the office in an interim capacity during the Clinton administration, has been outspoken about what she called overly expansive views of executive power that the Justice Department has adopted in recent years.” The Post notes, “Conservatives signaled yesterday that Johnsen would face questions at her Senate confirmation hearing about her approach to national security and intelligence gathering.” The Post adds, “Bradford Berenson, a Republican lawyer who has served under President Bush, said the four selections represented a ‘very solid, sober, responsible group.'”
The New York Times (1/6, A16, Lichtblau) reports that Obama “reached back to the Clinton administration again Monday to fill” the positions “with lawyers whose records signal a sharp break from the legal policies of the last eight years.” The Times continues, “Many of Mr. Obama’s picks in other cabinet departments have taken on a decidedly centrist bent. But at the Justice Department, where controversial Bush administration policies like interrogation tactics and eavesdropping will come under review, the nomination of Eric H. Holder Jr. as attorney general last month and Monday’s selections of four top aides suggested a strong effort to stake out a new direction.” The Times adds, “Mr. Obama, in announcing his four new choices on Monday, said, ‘I have the fullest confidence that they will ensure that the Department of Justice once again fulfills its highest purpose: to uphold the Constitution and protect the American people.'” The Times notes, “Mr. Obama’s transition team at the Justice Department, led by Mr. Ogden, has examined a variety of Justice Department policies over the last two months to allow for a quick start to the new administration.”
Bloomberg News (1/6, Bliss) reports, “The four nominations are subject to Senate confirmation. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 15 will hold a confirmation hearing for Eric Holder, Obama’s choice to be attorney general. He is facing questions about his role in Clinton’s pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich before the president left office in 2001. Holder was deputy attorney general at the time.” Bloomberg adds, “Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy praised Obama’s choices as ‘excellent lawyers’ who will form a ‘strong team.'”
The Chicago Tribune (1/6, Meyer) reports that “there was no mention of whether Obama and his nominee for attorney general, Eric Holder, intend to replace those heading the key posts at the Justice Department’s Civil, Criminal and National Security Divisions that oversee most of its high-profile prosecutions.”
Obama picks Harvard Law School dean for solicitor general. The AP (1/6, Pickler) reports, “President-elect Barack Obama on Monday chose the dean at his alma mater, Harvard Law School, to represent the United States before the Supreme Court.” Dean Elena Kagan “would be the first woman confirmed as solicitor general.” Although she “has never argued a case” before the Supreme Court, she “clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.”