|Kate Michelman, president of NARAL, speaks against the Ashcroft nomination at a Jan. 9, 2001 news conference; to her right is Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.|
|See Also: Stop
At left: Opponents of the Ashcroft nomination tried to get their message out by showing up near the Jan. 16 Capito Hill rally in support of Ashcroft.
|Following are quotes extracted from statements from groups opposing the Ashcroft nomination, organized alphabetically by group. Since President-elect Bush announced the nomination of Ashcroft on Dec. 22, 2000, the Missourian has become a lightening rod for criticism from liberal groups. A news conference on Jan. 9, 2001 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington marked a coalescing of the opposition (thirty different organizations had written statements at that event). The groups' major concerns include abortion and reproductive rights, civil rights, gun control, and separation of church and state.|
his career, John Ashcroft has shown time and again that he puts partisanship
and petty political goals far above fairness and equal rights...
Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that Senator Ashcroft has played politics
with the judiciary for years."
Nan Aron, president, Alliance for Justice -- Jan. 9, 2001
nomination is a nightmare for civil libertarians and state-church separationists...
He was the architect of the 'charitable choice' provision for the 1996
welfare reform act, and he, Bush and the rest of this new administration
seek to widen the scope of those unconstitutional policies."
Ellen Johnson, president, American Atheists, Inc. -- Jan. 3, 2001
Ashcroft's record has not been one of total hostility to civil liberties.
He led efforts to protect the right to communicate privately by supporting
free use of encryption and voted repeatedly to protect free speech rights
in the context of campaign finance reform. That said, however, the
vast majority of Sen. Ashcroft's policy positions indicate that he fundamentally
disagrees with core tenets of the Bill of Rights and Constitution as they
are currently applied."
Laura W. Murphy, director Washington National Office, American Civil Liberties Union -- Jan . 9, 2001
to this vital position should meet a minimum standard of qualification--a
commitment to equal justice for all. AAUW believes that Senator Ashcroft's
extreme record in opposition to civil and reproductive rights makes him
incapable of upholding and enforcing current law."
Nancy Zirkin, director of public policy and government relations, American Association of University Women -- Jan. 9, 2001
Ashcroft lacks the integrity, the temperament and the commitment ot equal
justice under the law required for an Attorney General. Were his
views to become those of the Justice Department, they would threaten every
federal labor and employment law currently protecting working families.
His views are at radical odds with the laws over which an Attorney General
has authority--from the role of the federal judiciary, to the role of the
federal government in protecting the rights of all Americans, to the rights
of women in the workplace.
"Senator Ashcroft's highly partisan attacks on executive and judicial appointments, together with his statements about litmus tests for these appointments, demonstrate a temperament at odds with that required for Attorney General. He is clearly a divider..."
AFL-CIO Executive Council -- Jan. 9, 2001
is an avowed opponent of the separation of church and state... He
is likely to use his office to further a reckless mixing of religion and
Barry W. Lynn, executive director, Americans United for Separation of Church and State -- Jan. 9, 2001
"By nominating a Religious Right favorite for attorney general, the president-elect has shown his true colors. This nomination may please television evangelists like Robertson and Jerry Falwell, but it's a disaster for anyone who cares about maintaining constitutional principles."
Barry W. Lynn, executive director, Americans United for Separation of Church and State -- Dec. 22, 2000
Ashcroft's disregard of the rule of law and his extreme anti-woman ideology
makes him an unfit candidate to lead the Department of Justice. It
is inappropriate for the nation's top law officer to be opposed to the
rights of half the nation's population, yet Ashcroft's hostility to women's
reproductive rights is fierce."
Janet Benshoof, president, Center for Reproductive Law and Policy -- Jan. 9, 2001
Ashcroft has a history of disparaging the juvenile justice system, demonizing
our children, and voting to lock kids up younger and lock them up longer
rather than finding ways to prevent juvenile crime in the first place."
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice "Senator John Ashcroft on Juvenile Justice: Extreme Politics Before Effective Policy" -- Jan. 2001
Bush campaigned as a 'compassionate conservative' and unifier. However,
the nomination of John Ashcroft is like pouring salt into an open wound.
A majority of voters did not vote for Bush. He has no conservative
mandate, yet he proposes a nominee whose views are out of line with a vast
majority of Americans... The Attorney General is charged with enforcing
our country's gun laws. Ashcroft has expressed an open disdain for
many of these laws. Can we count on this Attorney General to vigorously
defend and enforce laws he has opposed?"
Joshua Horwitz, general counsel, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence -- Jan. 8, 2001
Ashcroft has been an ardent opponent of women's rights for over 20 years....
His willingness to stretch the law and use Missouri tax dollars to launch
a three-year unsuccessful fight against NOW and the ERA all the way to
the U.S. Supreme Court foreshadows how far he will go to fight and deny
women's rights... His utter lack of understanding of freedom of political
speech and the right to take political action to achieve social justice
exemplifies a track record where his right-wing ideology prevails over
his legal judgment."
Eleanor Smeal, president, Feminist Majority -- Jan. 9, 2001
we expect someone who has shown such contempt for our gun laws to defend
those same laws?... How can we expect someone who is so closely tied
to special interest groups like the NRA to stand up to those same groups
in court? Senatorial courtesy is clearly outweighed by this nation's
right to an Attorney General who will enforce and defend our gun laws."
Michael Barnes, president, Handgun Control -- Jan. 9, 2001
for gay and lesbian Americans, we are troubled in two regards. First,
Senator Ashcroft has been more than willing to judge candidates for service
to this nation based not on the merits but on labels and categories.
Senator Ashcroft rejected the notion that James Hormel could serve this
country based solely on the fact that Mr. Hormel happens to be gay...
Senator Ashcroft also has a zero Human Rights Campaign voting record.
As a senator, he has made a variety of comments regarding gay people, often
based on misinformation and revealing bias... [W]e are concerned
about the senator's opposition to basic hate crime protection at the federal
level, and have serious doubts about his willingness to uphold the laws
such as the Hate Crimes Statistics Act and the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement
Elizabeth Birch, executive director, Human Rights Campaign -- Jan. 9, 2001
Senate, Ashcroft consistently opposed the nomination and worked to block
the confirmation of qualified minority candidates to positions on the bench
or in the Administration. He opposed the nomination of Bill Lann
Lee, an APA nominated as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, because
of Lee's support for affirmative action laws. Ashcroft also opposed
the nominations of two APA women for federal judgeships--Dolly Gee and
Susan Oki Mollway -- and play a key role in blocking the confirmation of
Missouri Supreme Court Justice Ronnie White, an African American, for the
federal bench by distorting and grossly misrepresenting White's judicial
record to his colleagues in the U.S. Senate."
Japanese American Citizens League -- Jan. 9, 2001
put, John Ashcroft’s views on a range of issues that would be the subjects
of his work as Attorney General are just too extreme. His open hostility
to the very laws and policies that protect the civil rights of all individuals
in our society left the LCCR coalition...no choice but to actively oppose
Wade Henderson, executive director, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights -- Jan. 9, 2001
an Attorney General who supports sensible gun laws to protect our kids
and our communities. Sen. John Ashcroft won't do that. He's
against banning assault weapons. He's against background checks at
gun shows. He's against child safety locks. He's for letting
people carry concealed weapons--even in hospitals and churches. He
is in the pocket of the NRA and is not fit to fairly enforce gun laws."
Mary Leigh Blek, president, Million Mom March -- Jan. 9, 2001
Abortion Federation is strongly opposed to the confirmation of John Ashcroft
for US Attorney General because of our grave concern that he will not enforce
the laws protecting abortion providers and their patients. We fear
an increase in the levels of violence directed against the dedicated health
care professionals who provide safe, legal abortion services to women if
Ashcroft becomes the next Attorney General."
Vicki Saporta, executive director, National Abortion Federation -- Jan. 9, 2001
rights of every American woman are at risk. The designee to be the
next Attorney General is a man whose record demonstrates a commitment to
roll back established constitutional rights... America needs an Attorney
General who will protect women's constitutional rights, including the right
to choose. Ashcroft has worked to criminalize abortion, even in cases
of rape or incest. He proposed legislation defining life as beginning
at fertilization, which would outlaw many common forms of birth control.
And his hostility to women's rights goes beyond reproductive choice..."
Kate Michelman, president, NARAL -- Jan. 9, 2001
"Not since Ed Meese would the U.S. have an Attorney General as hostile to a woman's right to choose. This appointment signals Bush's down payment on his IOU to the anti-choice hardliners."
Kate Michelman, president, NARAL -- Dec. 22, 2000
his six years as U.S. Senator, Ashcroft used his position to block and
hinder civil rights and equal opportunity for women and minorities."
Karen K. Narasaki, executive director, National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium -- Jan. 2001
outrageous for President-elect Bush to select someone who has consistently
opposed civil rights and affirmative action to be responsible for enforcing
the nation's laws. Ashcroft has one of the Senate's most negative
voting records on civil rights."
Kweisi Mfume, president and CEO, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People -- Dec. 22, 2000
legacy on criminal justice issues is demagoguery and opportunism...
His relentless, rigid, and self-righteous record on criminal justice issues
makes him unqualified to set the rules for who will be prosecuted, and
for what, and what should be the range of punishment."
Edward Mallett, president, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers -- Jan. 14, 2001
his years as senator, Ashcroft has disproportionately delayed and denied
the confirmation of minorities and women to both the federal courts and
the executive branch. NASW is committed to advocate for individual
liberties and social justice for all.... Ashcroft, a staunch opponent
of woman's right to reproductive choice, has drafted legislation to eradicate
abortion regardless of the circumstances. This legislation also would
make some forms of birth control illegal. NASW believes in reproductive
freedom and safe access to reproductive health services, including abortion
National Association of Social Workers -- Jan. 10, 2001
than unite us, this appointment is divisive. It sends a message to
women and minorities that the new Administration favors policies far outside
the mainstream of American values and jurisprudence. It calls into
question whether the new Administration intends to defend the policies
in place that have been enacted at the behest of the American people and
tested in the courts over the decades."
Jan Schneiderman, president, National Council of Jewish Women -- Dec. 28, 2000
policies we work on and support, his voting record has been an appalling
20 percent for the last legislative session and even lower in previous
sessions... Senator Ashcroft opposes common-sense gun safety measures
such as background checks and safety lock requirements. He has voted
against hate crimes legislation, class size reduction and school modernization.
He supports spending federal dollars on religious organizations without
requiring them to comply with civil rights and employment laws...
As the nation's top law enforcement officer, the Attorney General hs the
duty of enforcing our nation's civil rights laws. Senator Ashcroft
has shown through his words and his votes that he has frequently opposed
Bob Chase, president, National Education Association -- Jan. 9, 2001
Ashcroft's opposition to fundamental values such as family planning place
him far outside the mainstream of American values. His positions
are simply too extreme for him to be given this critical power and influence
over the lives of American women and their families."
Judith DeSarno, president, National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association -- Jan. 9, 2001
law enforcement priorities for the Department of Justice, would John Ashcroft
direct adequate attention to the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances
Act or the Violence Against Women Act? Could the department under
Ashcroft's leadership be counted on even to gather the statistics on hate
crimes and violence against women?... In deciding what cases the
department should appeal and on what grounds, in advising the president
on nominees for federal court judges and Supreme Court justices, would
Ashcroft seek to build or to dismantle civil rights, civil liberties, women's
rights and reproductive freedom?... Based on Ashcroft's record we
must regretfully answer all of these questions "no"..."
National Organization for Women -- Jan. 9, 2001
on civil liberties and women's rights run counter to a half century of
American legal progress. His perspective is a reactionary one, which,
if put into practice, will literally move America backwards, away from
a deepening of rights, and toward a limitation of rights."
Kathy Rodgers, president, NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund -- Jan. 2001
George W. Bush's nomination of John Ashcroft for Attorney General is an
affront to women and people of color who rely on the federal government
to promote fairness and equal opportunity. He is an extremist who
has consistently opposed measures to promote civil rights and women's rights
in this country."
Judith L. Lichtman, president, National Partnership for Women & Families -- Jan. 9, 2001
Mr. Ashcroft's rigid and doctrinaire opposition to voluntary busing for
school desegregation, affirmative action, women's right to choose, gay
rights and an array of other issues that are central to the civil rights
of Americans, we question whether he can exercise the duties of Attorney
General in a fair and judicious manner.
"Mr. Ashcroft's attempts to slough off concerns about his opinions as distortions or misunderstandings of things past is dubious at best in light of his very recent record of derailing Justice Ronnie White's appointment to the federal bench. Justice White was supremely qualified, yet Mr. Ashcroft, in a highly public and personal campaign, distorted Justice White's record."
Hugh B. Price, president, National Urban League -- Jan. 16, 2001
Ashcroft's record demonstrates not only a lack of commitment, but actual
hostility to equal protection of the laws and equal opportunity.
Yet, a demonstrated commitment to these fundamental principles is essential
if the American public is to have confidence in an Attorney General's fair
and even-handed enforcement of the law."
Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president, National Women's Law Center -- Jan. 9, 2001
Ashcroft opposed the appointment of Bill Lann Lee for the position of Assistant
Attorney General for Civil Rights because of Mr. Lee's support for affirmative
action. He also blocked the nominations of other qualified judicial
candidates supported by OCA, including APA judges Susan Oki Mooway and
Dolly Gee. Senator Ashcroft also led the campaign to keep Missouri
Supreme Court Judge Ronnie White, an African American, from a federal judgeship."
Organization of Chinese Americans, Inc. -- Jan. 9, 2001
Ashcroft is from the far right fringe of the Republican Party. His
voting record, as analyzed by the National Journal in 1998, was to the
right of Senator Jesse Helms. He is a favorite of groups from the
John Birch Society to the Christian Coalition. Ashcroft's devotion
to a right wing legal and policy agenda places him not only outside the
mainstream of American politics but outside even the conservative mainstream
in his own party. He has not earned the confidence of Americans that
as attorney general he would fairly enforce the nation's laws protecting
civil rights, reproductive rights and the environment..."
"In short, John Ashcroft might make an excellent choice to head the Christian Coalition or the NRA, but he is not qualified to lead the U.S. Department of Justice."
Ralph G. Neas, president, People for the American Way -- Jan. 9, 2001
"...Ashcroft's positions on abortion and the right of women to control their own bodies are so far removed from those of most Americans as to raise significant doubts about his fitness to serve as the nation's chief legal officer..."
People for the American Way -- Dec. 29, 2000
"This nomination is an insult to every person who is committed to our nation's promise of equal justice for all."
Ralph G. Neas, president, People for the American Way -- Dec. 22, 2000
Note: PFAW has been among the most active of the organizations opposing confirmation of Ashcroft; it issued a two part report "The Case Against the Confirmation of John Ashcroft as Attorney General of the United States (Part One covered the Senate years in 22 pages and was released on Jan. 4; Part Two covered the Missouri years in 44 pages and was released on Jan. 13).)
slavish devotion to the National Rifle Association -- including recording
ads for the NRA endorsing a doomed law that would have granted child molesters
and stalkers the right to carry concealed weapons -- is what particularly
concerns Physicians for Social Responsibility and its 22,000 members nationwide."
Robert K. Musil, Ph.D., executive director and CEO, Physicians for Social Responsibility -- Jan. 9, 2001
Parenthood Action Fund gave Ashcroft a 100% anti-choice rating while he
was in office. He is extreme, and his positions are out of line with
mainstream America. He has no business being America's top cop because
he will be responsible for protecting the rights he has opposed."
Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc.
extreme ideology and voting record regarding reproductive decisions show
a lack of respect for religious freedom, religious diversity and individual
conscience. Throughout his long career, John Ashcroft has failed
to demonstrate the fairness and impartiality required of an attorney general."
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice -- Jan. 9, 2001
"Nominating Ashcroft is a shrewd move to appeal to the Republican ultra-conservative wing by putting one of their own in a position to do the most harm to a women's right to choose... This is a clear attack by Bush on safe, legal abortion services and an opening for a resurgence of abortion clinic violence."
Reverend Carlton W. Veazey, president, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice -- Dec. 22, 2000
last election cycle, Sen. Ashcroft ranked in the Senate's top three --
for the amount of money he took from polluters: $633,470 according to a
study by the Environmental Working Group. Can we really expect him
to vigorously enforce clean air and water safeguards against the same companies
that just gave him thousands of dollars?"
Daniel J. Weiss, political director, Sierra Club -- Jan. 9, 2001
Ashcroft's views and record on civil rights, workers' rights, women's rights,
and environmental protection are radically at odds with the laws that he
would be entrusted with enforcing as Attorney General. And there
is no reason to believe that, as Attorney General, Ashcroft would be willing
or able to put aside his personal views and vigorously and fairly enforce
laws that he adamantly opposes."
Stephen P. Yokich, president, International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) -- Jan. 11, 2001
Ashcroft's record on consumer issues make him unfit to be America's number
one law enforcement official. As a Senator, Ashcroft demonstrated
repeated uncritical acceptance of self-serving corporate agendas that harm
the American consumer. Ten out of ten times in 106th Congress, he
voted to let producers of faulty products -- products like Firestone tires,
which killed many consumers while the manufacturer covered up the defect
--escape full legal responsibility for their actions."
William McNary, president, USAction -- Jan. 9, 2001
Ashcroft will place the health and welfare of the NRA and its gun industry
allies over that of the American public. What this means is simple:
more assault weapons, less vigorous enforcement of federal gun laws, and
a rollback of the Brady law. The Senate should not approve his nomination."
Kristen Rand, legislative director, Violence Policy Center -- Jan. 4, 2001
During the 2000 elections, the National Rifle Association claimed that if George Bush won the presidency, the NRA would be working out of this office. Now they've gone one better. If John Ashcroft becomes attorney general, the NRA will be running the Justice Department."
Joe Sudbay, public policy director, Violence Policy Center -- Jan. 4, 2001
Note: On Jan. 9, VPC released an eight-page report "JOHN ASHCROFT: The Wrong Choice to Enforce America's Gun Laws."
[sic] is so dangerous to lives and health of American women we cannot afford
to be silent. Ashcroft is simply an unacceptable nominee for Attorney
Maureen Britell, executive director, Voters for Choice -- Jan. 9, 2001
Note: The above groups formally opposed the Ashcroft nomination. Several groups including the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF), the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, and The Interfaith Alliance (TIA), took the step of expressing "concerns."
TIA press conference.
Naral ran this radio ad in 10 markets Hartford, CT; Philadelphia, PA; Melbourne, FL; Miami, FL; West Palm Beach, FL; Portland, ME; Lansing, MI; Minneapolis, MN; Madison, WI; Milwaukee, WI) starting Jan. 15, 2001.
NARAL-101-60 “Nomination” Revised 2
Consider the qualifications of John Ashcroft, the nominee for Attorney General.
On a woman’s right to choose, he tried to outlaw abortion – even in cases of rape or incest.
In fact, he supports criminalizing abortion.
And prosecuting doctors for performing them.
He even tried to stop nurses from distributing contraceptives to their patients.
So, it’s no surprise he voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.
This is the actual record of John Ashcroft, George W. Bush’s nominee for Attorney General.
For two decades Ashcroft, has advocated the most extreme positions against a woman’s right to choose.
The United States Attorney General should uphold our freedoms – not undermine our rights.
Call Senator _____ at 202-224-3121 and tell [him/her] to vote against John Ashcroft.
Protect the right to choose. Call Senator ____ now.
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