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January 15, 2001

NJDC to US Senate: Oppose Ashcroft for Attorney General

Listed in: Other Domestic Policy, Separation of Church and State, NJDC News, Press Releases

Citing the extreme nature of Senator Ashcroft's positions on issues ranging from reproductive rights and civil liberties to the separation of church and state, positions which place Senator Ashcroft "outside of the American mainstream," the National Jewish Democratic Council today declared its opposition to a cabinet appointment - the nomination of Senator John Ashcroft of Missouri to the position of Attorney General of the United States.

"After an election that evenly divided this country, we must agree with President-elect Bush when he said that now is a time for healing and unifying this country. But the President-elect has displayed poor judgement in not heeding his own advice, as the nomination of Senator Ashcroft for this most sensitive of posts will only serve to further divide the American electorate," said NJDC Executive Director Ira N. Forman. "The NJDC does not take this step lightly; to the contrary, we fully recognize that normally, as the declared winner of the recent election, President-elect Bush has every right to pick his own cabinet. But particularly in light of the incredibly close nature of the election, President-elect Bush has an obligation to exercise some moderation in his most important selections. Yet in tapping Senator Ashcroft for the position of Attorney General, President-elect Bush has done just the opposite. Because Senator Ashcroft is so far outside of the American mainstream, the United States Senate must exercise its solemn obligation of advice and consent and vote to reject this nomination.

"Senator Ashcroft has been without equal in the US Senate in his efforts to erase the separation of church and state, specifically by authoring legislative language to funnel government funds - wherever possible - to faith-based social service providers, without key constitutional safeguards. In the position of Attorney General, Senator Ashcroft would have the perfect platform from which to tear down the wall separating church and state - a wall that our founding fathers had the foresight to see as the only guarantor of true religious freedom, and a wall that is particularly treasured by the American Jewish community. Senator Ashcroft is again outside of the vast American mainstream when he argues that abortion should not be legal even in cases of rape or incest, or in cases where the mother could be permanently injured by the continuation of a pregnancy. As America's top law enforcement officer, Senator Ashcroft would have a position of newfound and unprecedented authority from which to influence the law and its enforcement in these matters and many more - including civil rights and common-sense gun safety measures. And time and again, Senator Ashcroft's demonstrated convictions on these issues place him well outside of the American mainstream.

"The extreme nature of Senator Ashcroft's views on so many issues of central importance to the work of the Department of Justice make this an inappropriate appointment. He would not be viewed as an Attorney General to all of America, or even to most or half of America, and without this legitimacy, Senator Ashcroft will not gain the authority to be an effective Attorney General."