Greg Sargent reports that centrist Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (NE) — who voted to confirm both Sam Alito and John Roberts — will oppose Dawn Johnsen’s nomination to lead the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. Nelson says he opposes Johnsen, a noted legal scholar and outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s torture program, because of her pro-choice views:
Senator Nelson is very concerned about the nomination of Dawn Johnson, based on her previous position as Counsel for NARAL. He believes that the Office of Legal Counsel is a position in which personal views can have an impact and is concerned about her outspoken pro-choice views on abortion.
Nelson is buying into the right-wing’s war against Johnsen. Outspoken anti-choice Republican Rep. Chris Smith (NJ) said Johnsen has a “a prejudice against motherhood, the family and a fundamental respect for all human life.” The National Review’s Andy McCarthy claimed she would be a “culture-war agitator.” Republicans have threatened a filibuster against her.
Nelson had opposed the use of the filibuster on John Bolton and former Bush EPA adminstrator Stephen Johnson. “Nelson generally opposes the filibuster on nominees, even if he doesn’t like the candidate,” notes Brian Beutler. It remains to be seen whether he will filibuster Johnsen.