senate confirms harold hongju koh

Finally, after a long, contentious debate (and a lot of bitter talk from the opposition), former Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh was confirmed this afternoon for the position of legal adviser to the State Department: SENATE APPROVES KOH NOMINATION. Here is a message he sent to supporters:
My dear friends:

Earlier today, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm my nomination as Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State. Starting tomorrow, I will assume that position, and begin a public service leave from my Yale professorship. I cannot tell you how much your countless acts of friendship and support have meant to me and my family during this confirmation process. So many of you went far above and beyond the call to stand up for me. We will never forget it. Nor could I feel more lucky or grateful.

One former Legal Adviser once described his job as "speaking law to power." I pledge to repay your friendship by doing my very best to serve our country in facing its global challenges.

With more thanks than I could ever express,
The Senate voted 62 to 35 in favor of Koh's nomination, ending a heated three-month confirmation battle in which some Republicans alleged Koh would subvert American sovereignty in favor of international law in his new position. Not surprisingly, the vote was pretty much split along party lines.

Much of the criticism aimed at Koh centered on comments he allegedly made at a 2007 Yale alumni dinner indicating his support of the use of Shariah law in U.S. courts. This, of course, set off a crazy deluge of criticism from conservatives.

To quote Senator John Kerry: "... some of the accusations and insinuations against Dean Koh have simply gone over any line of reasonableness or decency..." I can't help but wonder if Koh would have been scrutinized so intensely if he was Asian American. Come on, you have to wonder.

Whatever. None of that matters now. He's been confirmed, and he has a new job at the State Department. More here: Koh: 'I feel like I am setting sail on a thrilling new adventure.'

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