Politics
Politics

Senate Confirms "Porn Lawyer" Ogden for Dept. of Justice Post

| by Baptist Press
Senate Confirms Controversial Justice Department Nominees Ogden and Perrelli

WASHINGTON --The U.S. Senate confirmed two of President Obama's controversial nominees for the Justice Department Thursday -- one who had in the past represented pornography clients and the other who had represented the husband of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman at the heart of a lengthy legal battle in Florida.

The Senate confirmed David Ogden by a 65-28 vote for deputy attorney general, the No. 2 spot in the Justice Department. Ogden's ties to porn clients had drawn criticism from social conservatives.

The Senate also confirmed Thomas Perrelli for associate attorney general, the No. 3 position in the department, on a 72-20 vote. Perrelli was part of the legal team that successfully represented Schiavo's husband in his successful attempt to have his brain-damaged wife taken off a feeding tube to hasten her death. The case drew national attention.

Senators' votes on both nominees can be found here (Ogden) and here (Perrelli) .

Social conservatives had mounted opposition to both nominees, particularly Ogden. The Senate Judiciary Committee confirmed him along a 14-5 vote in late February but only after several senators expressed concern about his past representation of several clients. Among them, Ogden:

-- filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the ACLU and two other groups in the early 1990s arguing that a child pornographer had been improperly prosecuted.

-- submitted a friend-of-the-court brief earlier this decade for more than a dozen library directors, urging the overturning of a law that required porn-blocking Internet filters be placed on public library computers if the libraries receive federal funds.

-- represented Playboy in a mid-1980s case when it was seeking to have the Library of Congress -- which had stopped such practices -- translate the magazine into Braille. He also represented Playboy several years later in a lawsuit targeting Puerto Rico's decision to remove obscene material from cable television.

-- represented PHE, Inc., one of the nation's largest distributors of hard-core pornography, in an early 1990s case.

Colin Hardacre, a Los Angeles attorney who represents porn businesses, told a porn industry news website that Ogden's nomination "is a good sign for the adult industry."

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, had opposed Ogden's nomination, saying, "A person's views on pornography are a window to a person's worldview, and this window shows a worldview that is inconsistent with what I want the American Justice Department to be."

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D.-Vt., said opposition to Ogden was initiated by "the extreme right."

"These attacks from extremists distort the record of this excellent lawyer, this good man," said Leahy, adding that Ogden had a record of opposing child porn. Ogden served in the Clinton Justice Department.

Perrelli's nomination drew critical comments from Sen. Sam Brownback, R.-Kan., who urged senators to oppose the nomination.

"Mr. Perrelli was the pro-bono [attorney] representing for free Michael Schiavo in this case," Brownback said of the case that culminated with Terri Schiavo's death in 2005. "... I think before we put a person that took that position ... into the No. 3 position as the associate attorney general of the United States, we should discuss that, because ... what they view and what they stand for does find its way into policy apparatus for the United States of America."

Brownback said the Schiavo case involved a "fundamental question" involving human life.

"Clearly, we should err on the side of saying if this is a human person, then they are regarded as fully human with all human rights regardless of any sort of diminished physical or mental capacity," he said. " ... To hold differently than that would be for us to say that some people are more equal than others."

POST YOUR COMMENTS BELOW

--------------------------------------------

By Michael Foust, Baptist Press assistant editor

© Copyright 2009 Baptist Press. All Rights Reserved.