Attorney General John Ashcroft
John Ashcroft lost his senate seat in the November 2000 election to a deadman. This occurred n a conservative state, Missouri, that went to Bush. Ashcroft was too ultra conservative for even a conservative state.
(CNN) -- The late Gov. Mel Carnahan collected enough votes to beat out incumbent
Republican Sen. John Ashcroft for the U.S.
Senate seat from Missouri.
The incumbent Ashcroft was left running against a dead man after his opponent,
the popular sitting governor, died in a plane crash
on October 16. By that time, it was too late to remove Carnahan's name from the ballot.
NY Times, Bob Herbert, excerpt: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/08/opinion/08HERB.html
We are about to embark on a rough ride into the distant past. John Ashcroft, Mr. Bush's choice for attorney general, believes, for
example, that if a 13-year-old girl were raped by her father and made pregnant, she should be required to carry that pregnancy to
term. Most Americans do not feel that way.
But Mr. Ashcroft goes further. While in the Senate he proposed
federal legislation and a constitutional amendment that not only
would criminalize abortion, but would define human life as
beginning at fertilization. Under those circumstances, the law
could be used to attack some of the most common types of birth
control, including the pill and intrauterine devices, which in very
rare cases may work by inhibiting the implantation of a fertilized
The lobbying group People for the American Way noted that in 1998
Mr. Ashcroft was one of eight senators (including Jesse Helms) who
signed a letter opposing legislation to require federal employee
health plans to cover the cost of prescription contraceptives.
The letter said, "We are concerned with what appears to be a
loophole in the legislation regarding contraceptives that upon
failing to prevent fertilization, act de facto as abortifacients."
Abortifacients are drugs or devices that induce abortion. Most
Americans do not consider taking the pill to be the equivalent of
having an abortion.
Mr. Bush gave the impression during the campaign that he would
preside over a reasonably moderate administration. Mr. Ashcroft's
politics are somewhat different. He once said that the two things
you find in the "middle of the road" are "a moderate and a dead
Southern Partisan: "Setting the Record Straight" Attorney general nominee praised white supremacist magazine
"Your magazine also helps set the record straight. You've got a heritage of doing that, of defending Southern patriots like [Robert E.] Lee, [Stonewall] Jackson and [Confederate President Jefferson] Davis. Traditionalists must do more. I've got to do more. We've all got to stand up and speak in this respect, or else we'll be taught that these people were giving their lives, subscribing their sacred fortunes and their honor to some perverted agenda."
--John Ashcroft, Southern Partisan magazine interview (Second Quarter/1998)
When Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft praised the neo-Confederate magazine
Southern Partisan, he was endorsing a publication that defends slavery, white
separatism, apartheid and David Duke; a publication that celebrates the assassination
of Abraham Lincoln, while delivering a "mixed review" of Lincoln's
assassin (Southern Partisan, Second Quarter/1990).
Though Southern Partisan is the leading magazine of the neo-Confederate movement, it really is much more than a "gumbo of racist apologias," as the New Republic put it last year (1/31/00). Southern Partisan's bigotry targets virtually anyone who isn't a straight white male neo-Confederate. Southern Partisan practices equal-opportunity bigotry. Here's a sample of opinion from the magazine John Ashcroft says "helps set the record straight":
"Neither Jesus nor the apostles nor the early church condemned slavery, despite countless opportunities to do so, and there is no indication that slavery is contrary to Christian ethics or that any serious theologian before modern times ever thought it was." --Samuel Francis, Southern Partisan, Third Quarter/1995
"Slave owners . . . did not have a practice of breaking up slave families. If anything, they encouraged strong slave families to further the slaves' peace and happiness." --First Quarter/1996
Abraham Lincoln is a "consummate conniver, manipulator and a liar." --Southern Partisan cited in Legal Times, 2/26/1996
The Spring 1984 issue refers to "the sinister Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln--an invitation to the slaves to rise against their masters."
On John Wilkes Booth: "His behavior was not only sane, but sensible.
His background, loyalties, beliefs, and experiences had led him to that end."
--Mark Brewer, Second Quarter/1990
For years Southern Partisan has celebrated the murder of Abraham Lincoln
by selling T-shirts with Lincoln's image over the words "sic semper tyrannis"
("thus always to tyrants")-- John Wilkes Booth's cry just after
shooting Lincoln. Timothy McVeigh was wearing this T-shirt when he was arrested
for the Oklahoma City bombing.
New York Times, 6/3/1997
On the Klan
The Ku Klux Klan's first Grand Wizard, Civil War Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest,
cited as evidence that "the Confederacy was full of super heroes."
Praised former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke as "a candidate concerned
about 'affirmative' discrimination, welfare profligacy, the taxation holocaust
... a Populist spokesperson for a recapturing of the American ideal."
On South African History
"God led [Afrikaners] into the Transvaal, it was with God that they
made their prayerful covenant when they were besieged by bloodthirsty savages
on all sides."
On Feminism Feminism is a "revolt against god."
"Feminists, ethnic minorities, sodomites and other 'victims' of majority
culture are demanding special recognition and privileged status."
The University of Georgia "promotes perversion" by sponsoring programs
for Gay men and Lesbians. Same-sex marriage is a "vile act of blasphemy."
"The acts of sodomy are probably the most repulsive desecrations in
the sexual order.... The terrible swift sword of the dread AIDS disease is
surely what in other ages would be acknowledged a sign of God's wrath. It
is only the least subtle notice of divine displeasure with the swinishness
of our age."
--Reid Buckley, Winter/1986
On Everyone but "Us"
"Newly arrived in New York City, I puzzled, 'Where are the Americans?' for I met only Italians, Jews, Puerto Ricans." --Patrick Brophy, Second Quarter/1991
"What Southerner feels at home in Miami these days, a city 56 percent
Spanish-speaking that includes not only Cubans but numbers of cocaine-pushing
--Allan Charles, Summer/1982
"Melting Pot: An instrument by which distinct forms of distinct material are melted into a common sludge." --"The Partisan Dictionary," Spring/Summer 1981
"The tides of immigration turned negative: were characterized by the losers of political history...the Italians and the Irish... the dull-spirited and pagan, such as the Scandinavians... and by peoples to whom the tenets of our republic were altogether alien, such as the hieratic Jews....
"Negroes, Asians and Orientals (is Japan the exception?); Hispanics, Latins and Eastern Europeans; have no temperament for democracy, never had, and probably never will...
"As the genetic racial pool in the United States from which the democratic
government originally derived is dissipated in successive tides of immigration,
our country is being overwhelmed."
--Reid Buckley, Summer/1984
A Summer 1983 article denounced the "deliberate lies" of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, including "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
Until the late 1990s, Boyd Cathey was listed alongside Pat Buchanan as a
senior advisor to Southern Partisan. As late as 1992, Cathey was an editorial
advisor to The Journal of Historical Review, the leading journal of Holocaust
--Legal Times, 2/26/1996
"The best hope, perhaps the only hope, for the South lies in an independent
Southern nation, where we can at last be free to pursue the life we desire."
The public relies on media to expose cabinet nominees to tough scrutiny, but so far most of the mainstream media haven't seriously taken up the question of whether Americans will be well-served by an attorney general who sees Southern Partisan's bigotry and revisionist history as patriotic "straight" talk.
FAIR Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting 130 W. 25th StreetNew York, NY 10001
He's against banning assault weapons. He's against background checks at gun shows. He's against including child safety locks with new handguns. He supports people carrying concealed loaded guns, even at daycare centers and on school grounds! No wonder the National Rifle Association spent more than $300,000 trying to get him reelected to the Senate in November.http://www.StopAshcroft.com/ashcroft/
Religious Right Made Big Push to Put Ashcroft in Justice Dept.
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/07/politics/07ASHC.html January 7, 2001
By DAVID JOHNSTON and NEIL A. LEWIS
WASHINGTON, Jan. 6Within days of Senator John Ashcroft of
Missouri's narrow re-election defeat by a candidate who died three
weeks before Election Day, religious and conservative leaders began
promoting him for a major position in a Bush administration.
James C. Dobson, a leading religious conservative and president
and founder of Focus on the Family, a nonprofit organization in
Colorado Springs, publicly described the defeated Missouri
Republican as a national resource, and told reporters, "If I were
president-elect, John Ashcroft would be one of the people that I
would be trying to find a spot for."
President-elect George W. Bush and Vice President-elect Dick
Cheney both regularly received calls from conservative religious
leaders indicating their concern that the new attorney general be
someone sympathetic to socially conservative positions, a Bush
The conservative leaders also made their concerns known to Karl
Rove, Mr. Bush's top political strategist. Among those who weighed
in for Mr. Ashcroft was Dr. Carl Herbster, president of the
American Association of Christian Schools, the Bush adviser said.
Although he has not been well known nationally, despite his brief
exploration of a bid for the 2000 Republican presidential
nomination, Mr. Ashcroft has long been a favorite son of the modern
Christian political movement. For many years, a review of election
records showed, he has received generous financial backing from its
In the 2000 election cycle, he received more political money from
religious groups and clergymen than any other Senate candidate,
although the total amount was relatively small given the millions
in contributions he received for the campaign. And when Mr. Bush
needed support from religious conservatives in the pivotal primary
in South Carolina, Mr. Ashcroft provided a crucial endorsement.
In South Carolina, Mr. Bush was later criticized for an appearance
at Bob Jones University, a conservative religious school; Mr.
Ashcroft had appeared there to accept an honorary degree in 1999,
saying later that he was not aware of the school's positions
against interracial dating. Now some civil rights groups are
raising questions about his racial attitudes, focusing on his role
in denying a judgeship to a black candidate.
But it is not just religious conservatives who have found him
appealing; on a broad range of social issues, his views are shared
with many in the more conservative wing of the party. The Wednesday
Group, a loose coalition of conservative leaders who work on many
issues, is organizing support for him. A new group called the
Issues Management Center, with $5 million in financing from
conservative donors, is planning radio advertisements supporting
Mr. Ashcroft in states where they expect Democratic opposition,
including New York.
As far back as last summer, Bush advisers discussed Mr. Ashcroft
as a good choice for attorney general.
"If I were a betting man, I would have said he was the most
serious candidate early on," said the Bush adviser, in part because
of Mr. Ashcroft's strong support from Christian conservatives.
If confirmed by the Senate in hearings expected to begin this
month, Mr. Ashcroft would reach the highest office ever attained by
a leading figure of the Christian right. The appointment would
place him at the head of the Justice Department, a sprawling
government legal agency that is often at the front lines of the
pitched battles over emotion-laden social issues like abortion, the
death penalty, crime, civil rights and the selection of federal
Mr. Ashcroft's deeply religious background helps explain both the
impassioned support and committed opposition his selection has
sparkedfar more than any other nominee.
For the Christian right, he represents the triumph of one of its
own; to his opponents, he represents a troubling, even dangerous
mixing of public policy and religious fundamentalism. His record on
issues central to Christian conservatives, especially abortion and
judicial selection, will be critical in what is expected to be the
most contentious confirmation fight facing the new administration.
Mindy Tucker, a spokeswoman for the Bush transition team who is
working with Mr. Ashcroft, said Mr. Bush was convinced Mr. Ashcroft
would be an excellent attorney general. "He knows that his first
priority is the enforcement of the law," Ms. Tucker said, "and he
intends to do so."
His admirers say he brings a sharp intellect and the credibility,
political expertise and managerial experience drawn from winning
five statewide elections in Missouri. He served two terms as state
attorney general, two as governor and one in the United States
A review of Mr. Ashcroft's public record demonstrates how his deep
religious commitment is intertwined with his outspoken support for
the agenda of the religious right on a number of issues, including
some he would have direct involvement in as attorney general. Among
the issues he has tackled are abortion, the death penalty, gun
control, homosexuality, prayer in schools, the judiciary and
elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts.
In response, the conservative Christian movement has made Mr.
Ashcroft its favorite politician, providing foot soldiers for his
political activities and, most of all, financing his political
It is not only issues like abortion and judicial selection that
attract religious conservatives to Mr. Ashcroft. Some of these
conservatives say they care deeply about civil litigation and hope
that as attorney general he will pursue less stringent antitrust
enforcement and that the Justice Department will not support state
lawsuits against the gun industry or other assaults on industry.
Mr. Ashcroft's appeal to conservatives is such that as he
contemplated a presidential run in 1998 and 1999, he got more money
from organizations with a religious orientation than from any other
source. His political action committee received what might have
been the largest single donation in the presidential campaign:
$400,000 from a direct sales company in Kansas City, Mo., the House
of Lloyd, which espouses fundamentalist Christian values.
In November, even with enthusiastic support from religious
conservatives, Mr. Ashcroft lost his seat by a narrow margin, fewer
than 49,000 votes out of more than 2.3 million cast, to Gov. Mel
Carnahan, who had been killed in the crash of a small plane. Mr.
Carnahan's widow, Jean, was named to the seat.
Many in the Bush campaign team, notably former President George
Bush, expressed sympathy for Mr. Ashcroft's political predicament
in having to run against a dead candidate and admired his
comportment when he accepted defeat.
One official said that Mr. Ashcroft's decision not to contest the
election impressed the Bush team because it provided a vivid
contrast to Vice President Al Gore.
Mr. Ashcroft did not have close Bush ties, but he had some. His
campaign for chairman of the Republican National Committee, which
he lost in 1993 to Haley Barbour, was run by Ron Kaufman, an aide
of former President Bush. He was close to Jack Oliver, one of the
Bush campaign's top fund-raisers. And he was praised by Ralph Reed,
the former executive director of the Christian Coalition and a Bush
The son of an Assemblies of God minister and educator, Mr.
Ashcroft has woven his private faith into his public life. In his
1998 book "Lessons from a Father to His Son," he wrote that he held
voluntary daily prayers with his staff and anointed himself before
each of his two terms as Missouri's governor. He did so again,
using a bowl of Crisco oil, before being sworn in in 1995 as
The act of anointment, he wrote in his largely autobiographical
book, replicated the practice of "the ancient kings of Israel,
David and Saul," who Mr. Ashcroft said "were anointed as they
undertook their administrative duties."
In addressing the sensitive issue of how to blend religion and
politics, Mr. Ashcroft has written that he has strived to balance
politics and faith.
"It is against my religion to impose religion on people," he wrote
in the book. But he added, "I also believe that I need to invite
God's presence into whatever I'm doing, including the world of
In the early 1980's, Mr. Ashcroft began receiving attention and
financial backing from religious conservatives. The $400,000
contribution from the House of Lloyd was made in July 1998 to a
political action committee, American Values, when Mr. Ashcroft was
considering a presidential run. The money was used largely for
political advertisements in Iowa and New Hampshire before he
abandoned his presidential effort. American Values was dissolved in
In response to a question about the contribution, Ms. Tucker, the
Bush spokeswoman, said Mr. Ashcroft was a longtime friend of the
founder of the company, Harry Lloyd. The contribution, Ms. Tucker
said, was made by Demi Lloyd, Mr. Lloyd's daughter. The
contribution was made after Mr. Lloyd's death, Ms. Tucker said,
because Ms. Lloyd knew of her father's support for Mr. Ashcroft on
a range of issues, among them taxes and education.
As a senator, Mr. Ashcroft was the leading recipient of campaign
contributions from clergy and religious organizations, according to
a recent report by the Center for Responsive Politics. In the 2000
Senate races, religious groups gave an average of $3,414, to 27
candidates. Mr. Ashcroft received $23,577, according to the
center's reports, by far the most of any Congressional candidate
but still a tiny portion of his overall campaign contributions of
At the time he was exploring his run for president, Mr. Ashcroft
received his largest gifts from religious conservatives through
American Values, the political action committee he established in
Virginia that could accept unlimited, soft money contributions.
Besides the Lloyd contribution, the Virginia PAC received $25,000
from Foster Freiss, a Wyoming financier and prominent Christian
philanthropist. The two gifts accounted for more than 70 percent of
the money raised by the PAC.
Mr. Ashcroft also had a federal PAC, called Spirit of America,
which received $10,000 each from Pat Robertson, the founder of the
Christian Coalition, and his daughter. Federal election law limited
gifts to the federal PAC, which raised $2.2 million, to a maximum
of $10,000. On every Christian Coalition voting scorecard
tallying votes on issues like abortion, education, budget and arts
financingsince he entered the Senate in 1995, Mr. Ashcroft has
received a 100 percent rating.
In his writings and speeches, he has emphasized that he views
morality as integral to good government. When he was governor of
Missouri and had the authority to choose judges, he seemed to have
made a practice of trying to evaluate the moral mettle of judicial
In his two terms as governor, Mr. Ashcroft made a point of
personally interviewing prospects, often asking them unusually
personal questions. Two candidates interviewed by Mr. Ashcroft said
that what they remembered most about their interviews was that the
governor asked them pointedly if they had always been faithful to
Another judicial candidate said that Mr. Ashcroft asked him a
question about abortion, but it was not clear whether the question
constituted what has come to be called a litmus testa question
intended to weed out people who might not fit Mr. Ashcroft's view
on the subject.
This person said that Mr. Ashcroft asked if he was prepared to
enforce the abortion laws. "I thought that was a fair question,"
said this person. "It was one that you could simply answer yes to
if you were pro- choice or pro-life." At the time the question was
asked, Missouri had enacted some of the most restrictive laws in
the nation for women seeking to have an abortion.
Ms. Tucker said Mr. Ashcroft evaluated judicial candidates fairly.
"In interviewing judicial nominees and candidates for any position
he wanted to make sure he had people of the highest integrity and
character to serve the state," she said.
Mr. Ashcroft's opposition to legalized abortion, with a 100
percent voting record in the most recent rankings by the National
Right to Life Committee, is certain to be a flash point during his
Senate confirmation hearing.
Mr. Ashcroft has a long history of support for the anti-abortion
cause, as state attorney general, as governor and as senator. He is
a hero to the anti-abortion movement, and anathema to supporters of
Judie Brown, head of the American Life League, an anti-abortion
organization, said in an interview that Mr. Ashcroft was being
persecuted for his beliefs, and that he has repeatedly said he
would uphold the law of the land as attorney general.
"He's being crucified for being pro-life, and I think that's an
outrage," Ms. Brown said.
In 1998, Mr. Ashcroft was a cosponsor of a proposed constitutional
amendment that declared that the "unborn" had a constitutionally
protected right to life "at every stage of their biological
development, including fertilization."
Abortion rights groups said the practical effect would be not only
to ban abortion, but also to outlaw many common forms of
contraception. Mr. Ashcroft's amendment provided for only one
exception to the abortion ban"medical procedures required to
prevent the death of either the pregnant woman or her unborn
offspring," so long as "every reasonable effort" was made to save
both their lives.
That proposed amendment, like every other human life amendment in
recent years, never came to a vote in the full Senate.
Abortion rights advocates have also questioned whether Mr.
Ashcroft, as attorney general, would enforce laws banning violence
at abortion clinics.
Mr. Ashcroft's transition aides said that he would enforce the
federal statute that makes it a crime to commit acts of criminal
intimidation or violence at abortion clinics.
"John Ashcroft has always condemned criminal violence at abortion
clinics or anywhere and believes individuals who commit these acts
of violence and intimidation should be punished to fullest extent
of the law," Ms. Tucker said. "As attorney general he will do just
In the Senate, Mr. Ashcroft provided a reliable vote to prevent
the use of federal dollars for abortions. In 1998, in a letter to
the conservative publication "Human Events," Mr. Ashcroft declared
that if he could pass but one law, "I would fully recognize the
constitutional right to life of every unborn child and ban every
abortion except for those medically necessary to save the life of
The New York Times on the Web
ACTIVIST NETWORK -- People For the American Way Alert Date: December 22, 2000 -- Circulate Until: January 22, 2000 Oppose Ashcroft Nomination
(1) Ashcroft's Disturbing Record
(2) Call Your Senator!
(3) PFAW President Ralph G. Neas' Statement
(4) About Us / Subscription Information
(5) Please Support Our Efforts
(1) ASHCROFT'S DISTURBING RECORD
George W. Bush's decision today to nominate former Sen. John Ashcroft to the position of Attorney General--the nation's chief enforcer of civil rights laws--is an insult to every person who is committed to our nation's promise of equal justice for all. People For the American Way strongly opposes Ashcroft's nomination, and we urge you to support our efforts to fight his confirmation.
Ashcroft's record on civil rights is abysmal. More than twenty years ago, as Missouri's Attorney General, Ashcroft brought suit on behalf of the State of Missouri against the National Organization for Women because NOW called for a convention boycott against states who refused to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The courts rejected this attempt to suppress NOW's political activities. More recently, as a United States Senator, Ashcroft led a deceptive and reprehensible campaign that ultimately led to the Senate's rejection of federal judicial nominee Judge Ronnie White. Judge White was the first African American to sit on the Missouri State Supreme Court and was highly qualified for appointment to the U.S. District Court.
Ashcroft's voting record in Congress is equally troubling. He voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and against the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, but voted for vouchers and voted to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts. Ashcroft has vehemently opposed all choice laws, and opposes abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. Ashcroft has close ties with Religious Right leaders, and has received 100% ratings from the Christian Coalition and Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum. Conversely, the National Organization for Women, the National Abortion Rights Action League, the Human Rights Campaign and the League of Conservation Voters have all given Ashcroft 0% ratings. The Leadership Council on Civil Rights gave Ashcroft a 10% rating.
We hope you'll join us in our opposition, and will fight Ashcroft's confirmation to the position of United States Attorney General.
(2) CALL YOUR SENATOR!
The nomination process exists to prevent total domination by a single branch of government. You will recall that President Clinton was forced to name three nominees to the position of Attorney General before the Senate confirmed Janet Reno. It is reasonable and important for citizens to express their concerns about any nominations. Your Senators need to hear from you. Please call your Senators and ask them to oppose John Ashcroft's confirmation on the basis of his poor civil rights record.
NOTE: Due to the transition, the following Senators will not be a part
of the 107th Congress: Sen. Bryan (D-NV), Sen. Robb (D-VA), Sen. Roth
(R-DE), Sen. Mack (R-FL), Sen. Abraham (R-MI), Sen. Grams (R-MN), Sen.
Ashcroft (R-MO), Sen. Kerry (D-NE), Sen. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Sen.
Moynihan (D-NY) and Sen. Gorton (R-WA).
YOUR SENIOR SENATOR: Dianne Feinstein
Capitol Hill Phone (202) 224-3841
Capitol Hill Fax (202) 228-3954
Local Office (619) 231-9712 (San Diego), (415) 536-6868 (San
Francisco), (310) 914-7300 (Los Angeles), (209) 485-7430 (Fresno)
YOUR JUNIOR SENATOR: Barbara Boxer
Capitol Hill Phone (202) 224-3553
Capitol Hill Fax (202) 228-1338
Local Office (415) 403-0100 (San Francisco), (310) 414-5700 (El
Segundo), (619) 239-3884 (San Diego), (909) 888-8525 (San Bernardino),
(916) 448-2787 (Sacramento), (209) 497-5109 (Fresno)
Opposing Ashcroft's confirmation will likely be a challenging fight,
with a series of battles.
THANK YOU FOR TAKING ACTION!
(3) PFAW PRESIDENT RALPH G. NEAS' STATEMENT
While it is extremely rare for People For the American Way to oppose an Executive Branch nomination, we must oppose strongly the nomination of John Ashcroft to be Attorney General of the United States.
The Attorney General of the United States is not only the lawyer for the President, but also the lawyer for the people of the United States. He is the principal enforcer of our nation's civil rights laws.
John Ashcroft is the antithesis of the person required to lead the Department of Justice. With the possible exception of Senator Jesse Helms, I do not believe anyone in the United States Senate has a more abysmal record on civil rights and civil liberties.
The office of Attorney General is the worst executive branch position for George W. Bush to use as political payback to the far right. This nomination is an insult to every person who is committed to our nation's promise of equal justice for all.
The nomination of John Ashcroft to Attorney General is a particular poke in the eye to African Americans after Ashcroft's incredibly irresponsible behavior to block the federal judicial nomination of Judge Ronnie White.
This is truly an astonishingly bad nomination.
(4) ABOUT PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY / SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION
To join our email Activist Network, please go to:
ASHCROFT'S RECORD TOO EXTREME FOR JUSTICE
New Report Analyzes Votes & Views from His Senate Term
Washington, D.C. -
A review of just the last six years of Senator John Ashcroft's record as a
public official should be enough to lead the U.S. Senate to deny him
confirmation as U.S. Attorney General and head of the nation's Justice
Department, according to a new report released here today by People For the
The 22-page report is entitled "The Case Against the Confirmation of
Ashcroft as Attorney General of the United States: Part One - An Overview of
the Senate Years." It examines votes and positions taken by Attorney General
nominee Ashcroft from 1995 to the present as junior Senator from Missouri.
It concludes that he has consistently put his allegiance to far right
ideology before the interests and rights of the people and the nation and
concludes that he has failed to demonstrate a deep commitment to equal
justice under the law, respect for individual rights and the Constitution,
and sensitivity to the injustices suffered by women and minorities - all
qualities that should be considered a prerequisite for the nation's top
lawyer and principal enforcer of civil rights and other federal laws.
"John Ashcroft is the wrong man for the job," said Ralph G. Neas,
of People For the American Way. "His record places him at the far right edge
of the political spectrum, out of the conservative mainstream within his own
party. On the key criterion of commitment to equal justice under the law,
Ashcroft's record simply does not measure up to the standards the American
people have a right to expect from the person entrusted with protecting
their rights and their Constitution. John Ashcroft's record shows him to be
a man who has not earned the people's high trust but has used his power and
position to advance a far right agenda at the expense of Americans'
fundamental rights and liberties."
The report examines Ashcroft's Senate record, focusing especially on issues
that would be likely to come before him if he were to be confirmed as
Attorney General, both in his role of bringing cases to and through the
courts and as a participant in the screening and selection of federal
judicial nominees, including nominees to the Supreme Court.
The criticisms leveled at Ashcroft in the report include:
* He distorted and misrepresented the record of a highly qualified African
American Missouri Supreme Court Judge, Ronnie White, and misled his
colleagues in the Senate in order to sabotage White's nomination to a
federal district court.
* He has led attempts to amend the Constitution and pass legislation that
would virtually eliminate a woman's reproductive rights by banning
abortions, even for rape and incest victims.
* The abortion ban he proposes is so extreme that it could be used to outlaw
widely accepted and commonly used birth control methods including the Pill
* He engaged in extremist rhetoric to enforce an anti-abortion litmus test
against a highly qualified African American physician, Dr. David Satcher,
who, despite Ashcroft's attacks, won confirmation by a two-thirds majority
as Surgeon General in 1998. During the Senate debate on Dr. Satcher's
nomination, Ashcroft accused him of being "someone who is indifferent to
* Similarly, abortion was the litmus test Ashcroft applied in helping to
block Dr. Henry Foster's confirmation as Surgeon General in 1995.
* He employed another litmus test issue, affirmative action, to help block
full Senate vote on the nomination of Asian American Bill Lann Lee as
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, a position under the direct
supervision of the Attorney General.
* Ashcroft has opposed legislation designed to end workplace discrimination
(the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) and to protect vulnerable groups of
Americans against hate crimes (the Hate Crimes Prevention Act).
* He has given public praise to the far right magazine Southern Partisan,
neo-Confederate fringe publication that promotes the view, among others,
that slavery was beneficial to the enslaved Africans.
* He cast the sole vote in 1999 against a continuing resolution to keep the
federal government running and has voted with big tobacco, with gun
manufacturers, and against a national drunk driving standard.
* He consistently receives top ratings and endorsements from far right
groups such as the National Rifle Association and the Christian Coalition, a
distinction conferred only on their most dependable allies.
* Ashcroft takes a cavalier attitude toward the Constitution, as evidenced
by his frequent efforts to amend it. In just six years in the Senate he
introduced or sponsored seven attempted amendments. One of the most radical
of these was one he proposed in 1996 that would have changed the Framers'
original framework in order to make it much easier to amend the
Constitution, thus opening the way for disastrous political and ideological
The National Journal wrote that, "Ashcroft's record in 1997 and 1998
in a tie as the most-conservative Senator, according to the National
Journal's rankings." According to that analysis, Senator Ashcroft was even
farther to the right than Jesse Helms.
The full report is available on our web site at:
Attorney General -- Sen. John Ashcroft (R-Mo.)
The Sierra Club opposes the appointment of John Ashcroft as Attorney
General. Ashcroft has an exceedingly poor environmental voting record
and is openly hostile to most environmental laws. Ashcroft voted against
additional funding for environmental programs including the Clean Water
Action Plan and toxic waste cleanups at Superfund sites. He also voted
for a bill to roll back clean water protections, to prevent the EPA from
enforcing arsenic standards for drinking water, and to allow mining
companies to dump cyanide and other mining waste on large areas of
public lands next to mining sites.
Ashcroft also opposes campaign finance reform. He voted against the
McCain-Feingold bill for a complete ban on soft money contributions to
political parties, which would have closed a loophole that allows
mining, timber and other interests to gain influence by contributing
huge unregulated sums of money to political parties.
January 4, 2001
IN AMERICA By BOB HERBERT, NY Times
We keep hearing that George W. Bush's choice for attorney general,
John Ashcroft, is a man of honor, a stalwart when it comes to
matters of principle and integrity. Former Senate colleagues are
frequently quoted as saying that while they disagree with his
ultra-conservative political views, they consider him to be a
trustworthy, fair-minded individual.
Spare me. The allegedly upright Mr. Ashcroft revealed himself as a
shameless and deliberately destructive liar in 1999 when, as the
junior senator from Missouri, he launched a malicious attack
against a genuinely honorable man, Ronnie White, who had been
nominated by the president to a federal district court seat.
Justice White was a distinguished jurist and the first black
member of the Missouri Supreme Court. Mr. Ashcroft, a right-wing
zealot with a fondness for the old Confederacy, could not abide his
elevation to the federal bench. But there were no legitimate
reasons to oppose Justice White's confirmation by the Senate. So
Mr. Ashcroft reached into the gutter and scooped up a few handfuls
of calumny to throw at the nominee.
He declared that Justice White was soft on crime. Worse, he was
"pro-criminal." The judge's record, according to Mr. Ashcroft,
showed "a tremendous bent toward criminal activity." As for the
death penalty, that all-important criminal justice barometer
well, in Mr. Ashcroft's view, the nominee was beyond the pale. He
said that Ronnie White was the most anti-death-penalty judge on the
State Supreme Court.
Listen closely: None of this was true. But by the time Mr.
Ashcroft finished painting his false portrait of Justice White, his
Republican colleagues had fallen into line and were distributing a
memo that described the nominee as "notorious among law enforcement
officers in his home state of Missouri for his decisions favoring
murderers, rapists, drug dealers and other heinous criminals."
This was a sick episode. Justice White was no friend of criminals.
And a look at the record would have shown that even when it came to
the death penalty he voted to uphold capital sentences in 70
percent of the cases that came before him. There were times when he
voted (mostly with the majority) to reverse capital sentences
because of procedural errors. But as my colleague Anthony Lewis
pointed out last week, judges appointed by Mr. Ashcroft when he was
governor of Missouri voted as often as Justice Whitein some
cases, more oftento reverse capital sentences.
But the damage was done. Mr. Ashcroft's unscrupulous,
mean-spirited attack succeeded in derailing the nomination of a
fine judge. The confirmation of Justice White was defeated by
Republicans in a party-line vote. The Alliance for Justice, which
monitors judicial selections, noted that it was the first time in
almost half a century that the full Senate had voted down a
district court nominee.
The Times, in an editorial, said the Republicans had reached "a
new low" in the judicial confirmation process. The headline on the
editorial was "A Sad Judicial Mugging."
So much for the fair-minded Mr. Ashcroft.
A Republican senator,
who asked not to be identified, told me this week that he could not
justify Mr. Ashcroft's treatment of Ronnie White, but that it would
be wrong to suggest that the attack on his nomination was racially
That may or may not be so. It would be easier to believe if Mr.
Ashcroft did not have such a dismal record on matters related to
race. As Missouri's attorney general he was opposed to even a
voluntary plan to desegregate schools in metropolitan St. Louis.
Just last year he accepted an honorary degree from Bob Jones
University, a school that is notorious for its racial and religious
intolerance. And a couple of years ago, Mr. Ashcroft gave a
friendly interview to Southern Partisan magazine, praising it for
helping to "set the record straight" about issues related to the
Southern Partisan just happens to be a rabid neo-Confederate
publication that ritually denounces Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther
King Jr. and other champions of freedom and tolerance in America.
This is the man George W. Bush has carefully chosen to be the
highest law enforcement officer in the nation. That silence that
you hear is the sound of black Americans not celebrating.