Your Influence Counts ... Use It! The SPOTLIGHT by Liberty Lobby

Reprinted from, home of The SPOTLIGHT archive

Left Denounces Bush Choice for Attorney General

  • In the past, a highly-politicized Justice Department has been used to shelter President Clinton from prosecution. But the appointment of a conservative senator to the post may just change all that.
By James P. Tucker, Jr.

Left-wingers hope to generate strong opposition in the Senate to confirming Sen. John Ashcroft (R-Mo.) As attorney general because he opposes taxpayer funding of abortions and government-imposed racism in the fields of education and job opportunity.

Ashcroft opposes federally imposed racial quotas -- known as "affirmative action" in the left's lexicon of euphemisms -- in education and the workplace. Because many millions of Catholics and Protestants oppose abortions on moral grounds, he opposes using their taxes to finance such services.

In announcing his selection of Ashcroft on Dec. 22, President-elect George W. Bush made unsubtle references to incumbent Attorney General Janet Reno, who used the Justice Department to protect President Clinton from numerous scandals.

Ashcroft will enforce federal law "by principle, not by politics," Bush said. "His job is going to be to enforce the law in an impartial, not in a political way."

Left-wing organizations were quick to denounce Ashcroft.

"This is truly an astonishingly bad nomination," said Ralph Neas, head of the misnamed People for the American Way.

His selection "is a particular poke in the eye to African Americans after Ashcroft's incredibly irresponsible behavior to block the judicial nomination of Judge Ronnie White," said Neas, referring to a left-wing nominee of president Clinton's to the federal bench.

The Human Rights Campaign, a large homosexual organization, called Ashcroft's choice "a frightening halt to the moderate tone" of earlier Bush nominations. Ashcroft opposes special homosexual rights laws and their open service in the military.

Liberals are also angry at Ashcroft for opposing Bill Lann Lee as head of the Justice Department's civil Rights Division. Lee has said that laws against racial and sexual quotas, such as passed in California, are unconstitutional.

"Putting Bill Lann Lee in charge of enforcing the civil rights laws is seriously wrong because he remains committed to racial preferences and quotas," Ashcroft said. "Mr. Lee persists in the belief that Americans should be judged by the color of their skin in determining academic admissions, public contracts and employment.

Ashcroft has an 80 percent favorable rating with Liberty Ledger, Liberty Lobby's score card for Congress.

It will be hard to derail Ashcroft's nomination in the Senate. While the left despises his politics they find it hard to hate the man, who is the son of an Assembly of God preacher.

Ashcroft's goodwill grew when he declined to challenge the loss of his Senate seat to a dead man. His opponent, Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan, was killed in a plane crash two weeks before the election, resulting in a sympathy vote that barely ped Ashcroft. Ashcroft resisted pressure to challenge his loss on grounds that a dead man is unqualified, and stepped aside while the governor appointed Carnahan's widow to his seat.

Bush also appointed Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He was careful to place her in this benign post because she is in favor of abortions.