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Ken Turchi
IU Maurer School of Law
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Last modified: Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dawn Johnsen to address reproductive liberty, rule of law, and confirmation process on Friday

Nov. 17, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Maurer School of Law Professor Dawn Johnsen will on Friday (Nov. 19) deliver her first public lecture in Bloomington since being named to President Barack Obama's transition team in late 2008 and her subsequent nomination to the Department of Justice.

Johnsen, the Walter W. Foskett Professor of Law, will present "Reflections on Reproductive Liberty and the Rule of Law" at noon in room 123 of the Law School. She is also expected to talk about her confirmation proceedings during Friday's lecture.

The public and media are invited to attend the presentation.

Johnsen was named to Obama's transition team on Nov. 17, 2008, and later nominated to head the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel. After a contentious confirmation process of more than a year, Johnsen withdrew her nomination in April 2010. The Office of Legal Counsel remains without a confirmed head, and President Obama has not yet named her successor.

Johnsen said she looks forward to talking about reproductive liberties, the rule of law, the Bush Administration's torture memos and President Obama's choices in dealing with the military policy of "Don't ask, don't tell."

A federal district judge ruled "Don't ask, don't tell" unconstitutional earlier this fall, but an appellate court stayed the injunction pending an appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to overturn the stay.

"I'm looking forward to my first talk in a long time here at IU," she said. "One of the worst parts of the confirmation process was not being able to live my life as I wished and talk about the things I wanted to talk about. For the last two years, all that was essentially put on hold. It's time to move on."

An internationally recognized constitutional law expert, Johnsen has a distinguished resume. She served as the acting assistant general for the Office of Legal Counsel under President Bill Clinton, as legal director of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (now NARAL Pro-Choice America), and with the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project.