The conservative former Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft recently received widespread criticism upon his nomination as attorney general. The Guardian feels this criticism is warranted and that Ashcroft’s extremely conservative congressional record makes him an unfit choice for an office of such significance, and that a more moderate politician would be better qualified for this position.
A vocal opponent of affirmative action programs, Ashcroft voted to end funding for struggling minority- and women-owned businesses. He also opposes all abortions, including those sought by victims of rape and incest. Ashcroft also voted against an increase in the minimum wage in 1999.
The former senator’s approach to environmental and foreign policy is equally conservative: He opposed a bill that decreased government funding of logging road-building in national forests and he voted to decrease funding for researching solar and renewable energy.
In addition, in 1997 Ashcroft voted against a bill that would favor China firms that had adopted a code of conduct on human rights. On gun control, he supports the right to carry a concealed weapon and, in 1999, he voted against mandatory background checks at gun shows.
Ashcroft also has supported legislation that infringes on the Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and privacy. He supported the Communications Decency Act, which would have censored and filtered Internet content regardless of users’ preferences. Also, he voted for mandatory honorable discharge of all HIV-positive military service members.
The Guardian feels that this politician is clearly the most partisan-voting, right-wing party loyal that President-elect George W. Bush could have chosen for the weighty office of Attorney General.
We feel overall that the attorney general’s office should be held by a less extreme partisan. Though many argue that the opinions held by the Attorney General would not affect his or her ability to execute the laws, such views would carry great weight within the Justice Department itself.
Such internal attitudes guide policy development and steer the course of legislation that the Department collaborates on with the Congress. Digression with regard to policy and action has undeniable consequences in the Justice Department’s interaction with the executive and Congress.
An ideal Attorney General must guide policy options with such offices in the interests of bipartisanship, not extremism. Ashcroft does not fit this description and would certainly develop Department policy in the adverse interests of most Americans.