Marty Lederman joins the Obama Justice Department.

Georgetown Law Professor Marty Lederman will serve as Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, working under Dawn Johnsen, who will head the office. Over the past few years, Lederman’s legal blogging at Balkanization has provided invaluable insight and strength to critics of key Bush policies, including torture and warrantless wiretapping. Lederman wrote passionately against the Bush administration’s efforts to legalize the use of torture:

I am increasingly confident that when the history of the Bush Administration is written, this systematic violation of statutory and treaty-based law concerning fundamental war crimes and other horrific offenses will be seen as the blackest mark in our nation’s recent history — not only because of what was done, but because the programs were routinely sanctioned, on an ongoing basis, by numerous esteemed professionals — lawyers, doctors, psychologists and government officers — without whose approval such a systematized torture regime could not be sustained.

Here’s how Lederman described the mission of the OLC in a Jan. 2005 blog post. “OLC’s proper role is not to distinguish, for Executive Branch officials, among different forms of unlawful conduct, so as to identify those that are subject to the highest criminal sanctions, on the one hand, and those that are ‘merely’ prohibited, but without severe sanction, on the other. … OLC’s proper role, instead, is to inform the Executive Branch as to what conduct is lawful.”



Marcy Wheeler notes that Lederman is taking John Yoo’s old job.