Tags: obama | clinton | lawyers

Obama Taps Clinton-era Lawyers for Justice Dept.

Monday, 05 Jan 2009 02:39 PM

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WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama filled top Justice Department posts on Monday with four former Clinton administration lawyers, including naming the Harvard Law School dean to argue the government's position in U.S. Supreme Court cases.

Obama selected Elena Kagan, who served in the Clinton White House in the 1990s, to argue before the nation's highest court. She would be the first female solicitor general, a Justice Department official said.

Kagan, who became the Harvard dean in 2003, worked with Obama when both were on the University of Chicago Law School faculty in the 1990s.

The 48-year-old Kagan has been mentioned as a possible choice by Obama for any future Supreme Court vacancies.

Kagan would help craft the administration's position in the pending Supreme Court case on whether an al Qaeda suspect can be indefinitely imprisoned in the United States without charges. The administration brief is due by February 20.

While Obama has strongly opposed President George W. Bush's war-on-terrorism policies and has vowed to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, he and his aides have yet to say what position they will take in the case.

Obama also named Washington lawyer David Ogden as deputy attorney general; Tom Perrelli, who Obama knew when they both attended Harvard Law School, as associate attorney general, and Dawn Johnson as assistant attorney general for the office of legal counsel.

Ogden, Perrelli and Johnson all served in various senior Justice Department jobs during Bill Clinton's presidency, and have been top members of Obama's transition team at the Justice Department.

"These individuals bring the integrity, depth of experience and tenacity that the Department of Justice demands in these uncertain times," Obama said in a statement.

All of the positions require Senate confirmation.

Last month, Obama announced the appointment of Eric Holder, the former deputy attorney general under Clinton, as attorney general, the nation's top law enforcement official. Holder's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee has been scheduled for Jan 15.

© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

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