This is the second part of a two-part report examining John Ashcroft's record as an elected official. People For the American Way has undertaken this examination in response to his nomination to be Attorney General of the United States, one of the most important public officials in our nation, a person who has enormous power and influence over the lives of all Americans.
Part One, published on January 4, 2001, reviewed Ashcroft's record since 1995 as a U.S. Senator from Missouri. However, Ashcroft's public record began more than a decade and a half before he came to the Senate and includes eight years as Missouri's attorney general, followed by eight years as the state's governor. This second part of our report is concerned only with John Ashcroft's years as a Missouri elected official, the period from 1977 to 1993. Because of the length of time covered and the time constraints imposed by the impending Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on his nomination, this part of our Report, by necessity, is an overview of that state record. And while People For the American Way has many policy differences with John Ashcroft, this part of our report like Part One before it, focuses not on such policy differences but on those specific aspects of Ashcroft's record that relate directly to the special role of the United States Attorney General and the standards that should be met for anyone to be considered qualified to carry out the responsibilities of that position.
In Part One we concluded that John Ashcroft's U.S. Senate record does not meet the high standards required of the person entrusted with protecting the Constitution and the rights of all Americans. During his six years in the Senate, John Ashcroft consistently put his allegiance to far right ideology before the interests and rights of the people and the nation. He failed to demonstrate a 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 chief lawyer and principal enforcer of our civil rights laws.