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Dawn Johnsen Says OLC Should Release Interpretations of Statutes

Facing vigorous questioning from Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and other skeptics during her confirmation hearing today before the Senate

Jul 31, 2020
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Facing vigorous questioning from Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and other skeptics during her confirmation hearing today before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Indiana University law professor and Office of Legal Counsel Director-nominee Dawn Johnsen said that if confirmed, she would urge the release of all OLC memos interpreting congressional statutes.
Alluding to the OLC under President Bush, which refused to release memos concerning the interpretation of statutes regarding torture and the treatment of detainees, Johnsen said that “when the executive branch acts contrary to statute in secret, that goes right to the heart of what makes our great constitutional democracy work. In this system, we as Americans are all proud of the fact that the government is responsible to us, and we the people are the government. If we don’t know how the executive is interpreting a statute, congress can’t do its job of oversight.”
That’s consistent with her previous writings on the subject of the OLC and secrecy. During her hearing, Johnsen has otherwise been getting beaten up for her past criticisms of the OLC by the more conservative senators on the Judiciary Committee — but has received high praise from Democratic senators, particularly Dianne Feinstein of California and Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold.
Dexter Cooke

Dexter Cooke

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Dexter Cooke is an economist, marketing strategist, and orthopedic surgeon with over 20 years of experience crafting compelling narratives that resonate worldwide. He holds a Journalism degree from Columbia University, an Economics background from Yale University, and a medical degree with a postdoctoral fellowship in orthopedic medicine from the Medical University of South Carolina. Dexter’s insights into media, economics, and marketing shine through his prolific contributions to respected publications and advisory roles for influential organizations. As an orthopedic surgeon specializing in minimally invasive knee replacement surgery and laparoscopic procedures, Dexter prioritizes patient care above all. Outside his professional pursuits, Dexter enjoys collecting vintage watches, studying ancient civilizations, learning about astronomy, and participating in charity runs.
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