NELSON VS. JOHNSEN…. The efforts to derail Dawn Johnsen’s nomination to head the OLC have been painful to watch, not only because she’d serve the nation very well, but because the right-wing attacks against her have been a shameless (and baseless) attempt at character assassination.

Most of the conservative complaints about Johnsen center on her criticism of the Bush administration’s rampant law breaking. Adding insult to injury, the Senate’s most conservative Democrat is prepared to oppose the Johnsen nomination — because she’s pro-choice.

At least one conservative Democratic senator, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, is signaling that Johnsen won’t get his support.

“Senator Nelson is very concerned about the nomination of Dawn Johnsen, based on her previous position as Counsel for NARAL. He believes that the Office of Legal Counsel is a position in which personal views can have an impact and is concerned about her outspoken pro-choice views on abortion,” said spokesman Clay Westrope.

Yes, a Democrat is poised to oppose a Democratic president’s Justice Department nominee because she worked to protect Americans’ reproductive rights, which are already legal and enjoy the support of most of the country.

Of course, under the circumstances, Nelson’s vote on the nomination is largely inconsequential — there are 58 Dems in the Senate. The more pressing issue is the looming Republican filibuster. The GOP not only opposes Johnsen, but doesn’t want to allow the Senate to vote on her nomination at all.

Will Nelson go along with that, too? A Nelson staffer told Brian Beutler that the conservative Democrat “hasn’t decided yet,” but usually opposes “obstruction.”

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.