Dawn Johnsen brought a convention of liberal lawyers to their feet Thursday, calling on them to remain upbeat despite her failed nomination to head the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

Johnsen spoke to the annual meeting of the American Constitution Society, in what she said were her first public remarks since her confirmation hearing in February 2009. She withdrew her nomination two months ago, after more than a year of waiting for Senate Democrats to cobble together enough votes to confirm her.

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