John Ashcroft's First Six Months at the Justice Department: The Right Wing Dream Team Takes Over

The Justice Department Dream Team

In addition to Ashcroft himself, who is a member of the Federalist Society (see below), many high-level political positions within the Justice Department have been filled with ideological warriors from the far right. The impact of these appointments will continue to grow as they implement the administration's agenda in the coming months and years.

Some of the key members of the team that are either in place now or nominated and awaiting confirmation are:

Solicitor General
Ted Olson, the lawyer who argued on Bush's behalf before the Supreme Court last fall, was, until April, a member of the Federalist Society's Board of Visitors and one of the nation's premier legal advocates for a variety of right-wing causes. Olson represented Reagan during the Iran-Contra hearings and is a close friend and associate of Ken Starr. During Olson's confirmation hearings, questions rose about his role in the American Spectator's anti-Clinton activities and in Olson's truthfulness in answering questions.

Deputy Attorney General
Larry Thompson, also a member of the Federalist Society, served as an adviser and witness for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his Senate confirmation hearings. For nine years, Thompson was on the board of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, one of a network of legal organizations pushing a far-right agenda in the courts.

Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy
Viet Dinh, a professor at Georgetown Law Center, is the point man for judicial selection in the Justice Department. Dinh, who worked on the Whitewater investigation, is also a member of the Federalist Society who has been described by a colleague as a "conservative hotshot." During the aftermath of the presidential election in Florida, Dinh was a visible commentator defending the actions of Republican party officials.

Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources
Thomas L. Sansonetti is a Federalist Society member who has been a lobbyist for coal mining operations and other industries seeking access to public lands. He served in the Interior Department under Secretary Don Hodel (former president of the Christian Coalition) and as Legislative Director for then Congressman Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., now a U.S. Senator. He is still listed as a member of the Defenders of Property Rights Lawyers Network.

Principal Deputy Solicitor General
Paul Clement is a Federalist Society member and former chief counsel for the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Federalism and Property Rights chaired by then-Senator Ashcroft.

Associate Deputy Attorney General
R. Ted Cruz is an attorney who assisted in preparing the briefs for then-Gov. George W. Bush before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court. He was a domestic policy advisor to the Bush-Cheney campaign, and served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. Cruz is a member of the Federalist Society.

Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
J. Robert Flores was the vice president and senior counsel for the National Law Center for Children and Families, a lobbying group that strongly supported Child Online Protection Act (COPA), an Internet censorship bill that has since been overturned in federal court and is now before the Supreme Court. Flores worked in the Justice Department under the first Bush administration and the Clinton administration, from 1989 to 1997, serving in the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Criminal Division. In 1997, Flores joined former Attorney General Edwin Meese and eleven right-wing "pro-family" groups to protest what they claim was a drop in obscenity prosecutions under President Clinton.

This summary does not include many Federalist Society lawyers and right-wing activists who are taking over important policymaking positions below the sub-cabinet level.

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