Dana Remus, named White House counsel by President-elect Joe Biden Tuesday, will be an asset to him in dealing with conservatives, political observers say.
Remus has solid liberal and Democratic credentials, having been White House ethics lawyer for President Barack Obama and an attorney for his foundation, and she was general counsel to Biden's presidential campaign. But she also has ties to conservatives, as in 2008 she was law clerk to Justice Samuel Alito, one of the most right-wing members of the Supreme Court.
"It's Remus' experience clerking for Alito in 2008 that could prove especially valuable to the Biden administration as it gears up for repeated clashes with the Court's 6 to 3 conservative majority in the years ahead," Politico reports. Alito is a strong opponent of LGBTQ+ rights and abortion rights, and he and Justice Clarence Thomas recently said they'd like to see the court's 2015 ruling for marriage equality overturned.
She is expected to be a boon to the Biden team in legislative and regulatory matters as well. "She will help guide the new president through politically charged legal fights with Republican lawmakers," The New York Times notes.
"President Obama finished his eight years in office without any scandal, and that's largely a credit to Dana," Eric Schultz, a spokesman for Obama, told the Times. "It's why he asked her to help manage his post-presidency transition, and it's why it's no surprise Joe Biden would ask her to help restore ethics and integrity to the White House."
"The integrity of the legal advisory process has come into serious question during the Trump administration," Bob Bauer, who was Obama's White House counsel and an adviser to the Biden campaign, told Politico. "I think Dana, as the Biden White House counsel, projects a message about the importance of the legal advisory process, its integrity and its quality."
Remus defended Alito against accusations of sexism when Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote about the justice rolling his eyes when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was speaking. She wrote a letter to the editor saying that Alito was a man of integrity and did not have "some deep and abiding disrespect for women."
She has also worked with another major conservative, Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah; they taught a class together at Duke Law School in the summer of 2019, the Times reports. Now Remus will "help guide the new president" through battles with Lee and other GOP senators, the paper notes.