Religious, biblical and textual criticism, agnosticism, atheism and skepticism.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Urge Your Senators: Stop Obstructing Judicial and Executive Nominations!
Our Constitutional Values Dear John The Center for Inquiry asks you to contact your senators to eliminate the troubling backlog of judicial and executive branch nominees that exists to date in the 111th Congress and to end obstruction of Judicial and Executive confirmations including those of Dawn Johnsen and Thomas Perez as Assistant Attorney Generals in the Department of Justice.
Send a letter to the following decision maker(s): Your Senators
Below is the sample letter: Subject: Confirm Key Judicial and Executive Nominees Now! Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here], As a Friend of the Center for Inquiry, I urge you to support a prompt vote for the confirmation of Dawn Johnsen as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and Thomas Perez as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division in the Department of Justice. The Center for Inquiry is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization devoted to the separation of church and state, civil rights, and the rule of law.
We seek your cooperation in eliminating the troubling backlog of judicial and executive branch nominees that exists to date in the 111th Congress. The obstruction of many of President Obama's nominees through filibuster threats and anonymous 'holds' is hindering the important work of our judicial and executive branches of government, bringing into question the Senate's constitutional role of 'Advice and Consent', and threatening any prospect of bipartisan cooperation on many pressing national issues important to all Americans.
The OLC f requently advises the White House and the federal agencies about the limits of law in important matters ranging from voting rights to religious discrimination. The Center for Inquiry is concerned that the Justice Department adhere strictly to the rule of law rather than adding the appearance of legality to ideological decisions, as was the case during the previous administration. The OLC will soon become significant to the Center for Inquiry in its commitment to the separation of church and state, because the OLC will play an important role in deciding the constitutionality of policy in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Both of the nominees are extremely well qualified. Professor Johnsen is a distinguished legal scholar who served in the OLC during the 1990's. She showed her concern for the OLC when the integrity of the office was suspect by helping to craft legislation to bring greater transparency to the office. In 2004, she organized a group of former OLC attorneys to write a statement of principles for the office that received bipartisan praise. Mr. Perez has an outstanding record of public service both inside and outside the CRD, including significant management responsibilities. Because the CRD currently faces severe challenges, including the need to remedy the loss of a significant number of career staff, to correct for troubling past hiring practices, and to correct for past failures to fully enforce federal civil rights laws, Mr. Perez's prompt confirmation is essential.
The DOJ needs new direction and Dawn Johnsen and Thomas Perez are ideally placed to provide it. Their experience and passion for the law give them the wisdom and courage to tell the President what is legal and constitutional, regardless of whether or not it is politically expedient.
We believe that the confirmation of each of these nominees will contribute significantly to re-establishing the reputation of the U.S. as a nati on governed by laws not ideology. Please confirm their nominations as quickly as possible.
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What's At Stake: Nothing less than upholding the law and the U.S. Constitution. The Office of Legal Counsel OLC) in the Department of Justice acts like an in-house Supreme Court deciding on the legality of issues ranging from voting rights to religious discrimination. It tells the President and the executive branch agencies whether proposed executive orders or regulations are within the law and the Constitution. In the previous administration, the OLC betrayed its commitment to law by bending its opinions to the political and ideological requests of the White House. Most notoriously, the OLC issued memoranda that permitted the administration to authorize harsh interrogation methods, and to authorize wiretapping without warrants. The OLC will soon become significant to the Center for Inquiry in its commitment to the separation of church and state, because the OLC will play an important role in deciding the constitutionality of policy in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Instead of a general principle prohibiting religious discrimination in hiring for social services provided by religious institutions, the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will refer hiring issues to the OLC on a 'case-by-case' basis. The recommendations of the OLC on each case will go directly to President Barack Obama for his decision. Under the leadership of Professor Johnsen, we can be assured that the recommendations will be based on a sound and objective consideration of the laws upholding separation of church and state. Thomas Perez's appointment to the Division of Civil Rights is also very important to our nation. The previous administration shifted this important office's focus away from enforcing civil rights laws. Now, the Obama administration has vowed to revitalize this office by hiring a greater number of lawyers and by returning the focus to issues such as voting rights, employment fairness, and equitable housing. This work cannot truly begin, however, without a leader. Thus, it is vital that Perez be swiftly appointed. There is a troubling backlog of judicial and executive branch nominees that exists to date in the 111th Congress. The obstruction of many of President Obama's nominees through filibuster threats and anonymous 'holds' is hindering the important work of our judicial and executive branches of government, bringing into question the Senate's constitutional role of providing 'Advice and Consent', and threatening any prospect of bipartisan cooperation on many pressing national issues important to all Americans. Both of the nominees have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but their nominations are threatened by a minority of Senators. They are threatening a filibuster, although many senators declared that they would never filibuster a President's nominee. Instead of further delay, the Senate should schedule a vote and move on to other issues such as health care, energy, and education. Dawn Johnsen and Thomas Perez are extremely qualified for their essential role in restoring integrity to the Department of Justice. We need them to be working in the office now, not waiting for Senators to vote, so please send your email or make than phone call NOW.