|Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback||
Pundits discuss role of attorney general and Ashcroft nomination
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The role of the U.S. attorney general could be a major issue when President-elect George W. Bush's choice for the post, John Ashcroft, faces his former colleagues in the Senate.
The conservative former Missouri senator has been criticized by civil rights and women's groups who fear that he might not be active in enforcing laws on civil rights, equal rights for women, restrictions on gun ownership and the ban on violence against abortion clinics.
Former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, an Ashcroft supporter, appeared on CNN's Burden of Proof Thursday. He said Ashcroft has built a distinguished record over a quarter of a century and will enforce the law fairly.
"I have absolutely no fear in any way whatsoever that John Ashcroft won't do that as faithfully as he's expected to do. That doesn't mean that he will necessarily agree with every legislative enactment that may take place," he said.
National Organization for Women President Patricia Ireland said there is more to the attorney general's job than enforcing the law.
"Fair is subject to interpretation. The attorney general is going to have to decide the allocation of resources. What do the U.S. attorneys do, how does the FBI spend its time and importantly, what cases do they take to the Supreme Court, and in what cases do they intervene that other people have taken," she said. "So, there are many ways that the policy is actually shaped by those decisions."
Sen. Bob Smith, R- New Hampshire, said Ashcroft has already proven himself.
"The irony of all this so called, 'turbulent waters,' is that John Ashcroft has done just that. In two terms as attorney general in Missouri he was given commendations by the National Association of Attorneys General for enforcing the law... he's been given commendations for enforcing the laws fairly," Smith said.
Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon said Ashcroft's supporters are minimizing the importance of the attorney general's office.
"It's clear here that John Ashcroft is not in the political mainstream in our country. The question we have in place is what is the role of the attorney general in our politics. Those who want to confirm him try to show a very narrow role for his confirmation process when in reality you have an opportunity to be aggressive or absent on a number of issues in the policy making position of attorney general of the United States," he said.
Senate Democrats are expected to question Ashcroft about his role in blocking Missouri Supreme Court Judge Ronnie White's nomination to the federal bench. White was the first black jurist to serve on the state's high court.
Ashcroft said he thought White was soft on crime and his supporters point out that he voted to confirm 26 black nominees when he was in the Senate.
Nixon said White had a better record on the death penalty than the Republican judge he replaced on the state supreme court.
"John Ashcroft's actions there were using politics to really play to the far right. The fact that it was an African-American judge made it an even more acceptable argument that this man was soft on crime, and that's just not true," Nixon said.
Racicot said charges that Ashcroft opposed White because of his race are "disingenuous at best and outrageous at worst."
Reno promises Ashcroft smooth transition
See related sites about LAW
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.