- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Senate approved the nomination of two top Justice Department officials Thursday, overcoming reservations from some conservative Republicans about the choices.

David Ogden, who served in the Clinton administration, was confirmed as deputy attorney general, the department’s second highest post, on a 65-28 vote. The final vote came after Republicans dropped a threat to filibuster over concerns about the nominee’s record on social issues and his defense of pornographers in censorship cases while in private practice.

The Senate also voted 72-20 to confirm Thomas Perrelli as associate attorney general, who oversees the department’s antitrust, civil rights and tax divisions. Another Clinton administration veteran, Mr. Perrelli also helped represent the husband of terminally ill patient Terry Schiavo in a contentious right-to-die legal battle.

Mr. Ogden, a partner at the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, has faced opposition from social conservatives because of his clients.

Mr. Ogden “is more than just a lawyer who has had a few unsavory clients,” said Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican. “He has devoted a substantial part of his career, case after case, for 20 years, in defense of pornography.”

But Democratic defenders, led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, argued that Mr. Ogden’s personal views should not be confused with those of his clients and that the pronography cases were just a small part of his overall work.

“Special interests on the far right have distorted Mr. Ogden’s record by focusing only on a narrow sliver of his diverse practice as a litigator that spans more than three decades,” Mr. Leahy said.

The Senate votes fill two key posts under Attorney General Eric Holder, but other nominees, including Harvard Law professor Elena Kagan as solicitor general, are still awaiting a confirmation vote.