The Case Against the Confirmation of John Ashcroft As Attorney General of the United States: Part II

Ashcroft judicial pick spurs state lawmakers to urge new rules in choosing state judges.

The most egregious example of Ashcroft’s favoritism is the case of Edward D. "Chip" Robertson, Jr. Robertson was Governor Ashcroft’s chief of staff and had served as a top deputy when Ashcroft was Missouri Attorney General. Kansas City Star, June 30, 1985. When appointed to the Missouri Supreme Court, Robertson was 33 years old, had been out of law school for only 8 years, and had no judicial experience. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 28, 1985, March 21, 1988; Kansas City Times, July 2, 1985. Ashcroft chose Robertson over two other highly qualified candidates who were sitting appellate court judges. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 20-21, 1988. Ashcroft’s choice of Robertson for this position caused a firestorm of controversy and he was criticized in articles and editorials. Springfield Daily News, June 28, 1985; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 28, 1985; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 20, 1988.)

After the Robertson appointment, the state Senate Pro Tem and Majority Leader established a special committee to examine the state’s system of nominating and appointing judges and to propose legislation to revise the system. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 7, 1985; Kansas City Star, June 30, 1985; UPI, July 16, 1985). One of the changes recommended was having the Senate confirm nominations to the Supreme Court. Ashcroft opposed the proposal to submit Supreme Court nominations to the Senate where—he said—"politics reigned supreme." St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 7, 1985. He said that the current system worked well and that there was no reason to change it. Id.

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