Washington – Attorney General John Ashcroft’s participation today in ceremonies honoring the anniversary of the historic Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation case rang hollow in the light of his career-long antipathy to school desegregation and lackluster civil rights enforcement efforts, said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas.
“It’s stunning to hear John Ashcroft praise the landmark school desegregation ruling. As the Attorney General of Missouri, he opposed the desegregation of the schools in St. Louis for years, relentlessly fighting efforts to forge a resolution and shape a voluntary desegregation plan. He filed appeal after appeal and earned scathing criticism from the news media, community leaders, a federal judge and local religious leaders, including the St. Louis Archbishop. As Attorney General of the United States, his Justice Department has rarely been moved to enforce the civil rights laws on the books today – particularly voting rights,” said Neas.
“Only two conclusions can be drawn. Either Mr. Ashcroft’s words are empty rhetoric, or after a long career of antipathy toward desegregation and lackluster enforcement of civil rights laws, he has at last seen the light. If it is indeed the latter, he is uniquely positioned to honor the anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education in deeds, not words, by refocusing the Justice Department on the vigilant and energetic enforcement of civil rights across the nation,” he added.
People For the American Way has published a number of detailed reports on Ashcroft’s record and his performance in the Justice Department. To read about his opposition to school desegregation in Missouri, click here .
PFAW Ashcroft reports include:
Two Years After 9/11: Ashcroft's Assault on the Constitution