03.12.09

Senate Confirms Deputy Attorney General Nominee

WASHINGTON (Thursday, March 12, 2009) – The U.S. Senate today confirmed David Ogden to be the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, the second highest-ranking position in the Department of Justice.  After two days of debate, the Senate voted 65-28 to confirm the nominee.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) moved quickly to schedule a hearing and Committee vote on the nomination.  Deputy Attorney General Ogden testified before the Committee on February 5.  The nomination was reported by the Committee by a bipartisan vote of 14-5 on February 26.

The Senate will vote Thursday afternoon on another key Justice Department nomination, that of Thomas Perrelli to be the Associate Attorney General.  Leahy’s closing remarks, as prepared, in the debate on Ogden’s nomination follow.

 

Closing Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),

Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,

On the Nomination of David Ogden to be Deputy Attorney General

March 12, 2009

  As Prepared

The Senate is finally ready to conclude its consideration of President Obama’s nomination of David Ogden to be Deputy Attorney General.  We will finally give the nomination the up or down vote Senate Republicans used to claim was the constitutional right of every nominee.  After all four of President Bush’s Deputy Attorney General nominees were confirmed without a single dissenting vote by Democrats, Senate Republicans have decided to ignore the national security challenges this country is facing since the attacks of  9/11 and returned to their partisan, narrow ideological and divisive tactics of the 1990s.  In fact, it was the nomination of Eric Holder to be the Deputy Attorney General in 1997 that was the last time a President’s choice for Deputy Attorney General was held up in the Senate. Senate Republicans have unfortunately returned to their old, tired playbook.  

David Ogden will fill the number two position at the Department of Justice.  As Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Ogden will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the Justice Department, including the Department’s critical role of keeping our Nation safe from the threat of terrorism.  He is highly-qualified to do so, leaving a successful career in private practice to return to the Justice Department, where he previously served with great distinction, and having previously served at the Department of Defense. 

Senator Kaufman, Senator Klobuchar and Senator Durbin made statements yesterday in support of the nominee.  Senator Specter, the Judiciary Committee’s Ranking Member, also spoke yesterday in support of Mr. Ogden’s nomination. I thank them all. 

I was disappointed at the handful of opposition statements that parroted outrageous attacks against Mr. Ogden that have been launched by some on the extreme right.  Such attacks distort the record of this excellent lawyer and good man.  They begin by ignoring the truth, the whole truth, and then mischaracterizing a narrow sliver of his diverse practice as a litigator.  

Those who contend that Mr. Ogden has “consistently” taken positions against laws to protect children, chose to ignore Mr. Ogden’s record and his confirmation testimony.  What these critics leave out of their caricature is the fact that Mr. Ogden aggressively defended the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act and the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 when he previously served at the Justice Department.  In private practice he wrote a brief for the American Psychological Association in Maryland v. Craig in which he argued for protection of child victims of sexual abuse.  In his personal life, he has volunteered his time at the Chesapeake Institute, a clinic for sexually-abused children.  In his testimony he demonstrated his commitment to the rule of law and his abhorrence of child pornography and child abuse.  These are inconvenient facts for those who want to perpetuate a fraud, but they are the truth.  That truth has led the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and law enforcement organizations across the country to support this nomination and reject the misconceived effort at character assassination of this public servant and family man. 

Republicans who attack Mr. Ogden are also applying a double standard.  Nominees from both Republican and Democratic administrations and Senators from both sides of the aisle have cautioned against opposing nominees based on their legal representations on behalf of clients.  When asked about this point in connection with his own nomination, Chief Justice Roberts testified, “it has not been my general view that I sit in judgment on clients when they come” and, “it was my view that lawyers don’t stand in the shoes of their clients, and that good lawyers can give advice and argue any side of a case.”  For nominees of Republican Presidents, Republicans demand that their clients and their legal representations not be held against nominees.  That rule is apparently abandoned by some Republicans when the American people elect a Democratic President, however.  

As recently as just over one year ago, every Senate Republican voted to confirm Michael Mukasey to be Attorney General of the United States.  They showed no concern that one of his clients, and one of his most significant cases in private practice – according to him--  was his representation of Carlin Communications, a company that specialized in what are called “dial-a-porn” services.  Talk about a double standard.  Where was the outrage then? Where was the debate? Where were the concerns? Where were the questions? 

Mr. Ogden’s nomination has received dozens of letters of support, including strong endorsements from Republican and Democratic former public officials and high-ranking veterans of the Justice Department and from an impressive array of major law enforcement organizations.  Larry Thompson, a former Deputy Attorney General himself, wrote that “David will be a superb Deputy Attorney General.”  Chuck Canterbury, the national President of the Fraternal Order of Police, wrote that Mr. Ogden “possesses the leadership and experience that the Justice Department will need to meet the challenges which lay before us.”  A dozen retired military officers who served as Judge Advocates General have endorsed Mr. Ogden's nomination, calling him "a person of wisdom, fairness and integrity, a public servant vigilant to protect the national security of the United States, and a civilian official who values the perspective of uniformed lawyers in matters within their particular expertise."

Mr. Ogden’s nomination was reported by a bipartisan majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee two weeks ago.  The vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee was 14 to 5. The Assistant Republican Leader, the Ranking Republican on the Committee and the senior Senator from South Carolina all voted in favor of the nomination.

As a former high-ranking official at both the Defense Department and the Justice Department, David Ogden is the kind of serious lawyer and experienced government servant who understands the special role the Department of Justice must fill in our democracy. 

It is time for the Senate to act. It is time for the slurs and vicious right wing attacks to stop. The problems and threats confronting the country are too serious.  I urge all Senators to join in voting to confirm this highly qualified nominee and good man to be Deputy Attorney General of the United States. 

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