John Ashcroft’s voting record in the Senate firmly establishes his far right credentials. The National Journal wrote that, "Ashcroft’s record in 1997 and 1998 put him in a tie as the most-conservative Senator, according to the National Journal’s rankings." According to that analysis, Senator Ashcroft was even farther to the right than Jesse Helms. Ratings by both right-wing and progressive interest groups confirm Senator Ashcroft’s far right record and underscore the extreme nature and ideological rigidity of Ashcroft’s views.
In particular, ratings by the Christian Coalition, the National Right to Life Committee, and the American Conservative Union show that throughout his six years in the United States Senate, John Ashcroft has been a consistent and reliable vote for right-wing legislative priorities. The Christian Coalition has given him a perfect 100% rating in every year but one since 1995 (with the ratings for that one year, 1999, unavailable on the organization’s web site). The National Right to Life Committee rated Ashcroft 93% in 1995 and 100% every year since then. (Ratings for 2000 are not yet available on the group’s web site.) Ashcroft also received 100% ratings from the American Conservative Union for 1996 through 1999, and 91% in 1995 and 96% for 2000.
On the progressive side, opinion is similarly unanimous about Ashcroft’s voting record. The NAACP graded his performance as "F" for each of the last three Congresses. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights gave him 10% ratings for the 104th and 105th Congresses. On the scorecards of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League ("NARAL"), Senator Ashcroft’s votes earned him a solid 0% every year since 1995. (Ratings are not yet available for 2000.) The League of Conservation Voters gave Ashcroft an 11% in 1995-96 and 0% since then. On the AFL-CIO’s ratings on issues affecting working people and their families, Ashcroft earned a meager 14% in 1996 and 0% every year since then. And Handgun Control reports that Ashcroft has opposed every single bill on their priority list during his six years in the Senate.
John Ashcroft takes pride in his ultra-conservatism. According to Ashcroft, "there are two things you find in the middle of the road. A moderate and a dead skunk, and I don’t want to be either one of those." St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Aug. 25, 1998). In the same year he made that statement, Ashcroft also publicly repudiated the "deceptions" of pragmatism, conciliation, and compromise, and strongly advocated "unabashed conservatism." Human Events (April 10, 1998).