Dems Question Ashcroft’s Ability to Enforce All Laws

The Senate confirmation hearing in John Ashcroft’s bid for Attorney General continues today, with protestors again crowded outside the Russell Senate building, opposing the nomination of this anti-choice, anti-woman, anti-civil rights politician. At yesterday’s hearing, Ashcroft faced a barrage of questions from Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) regarding Ashcroft’s poor record on civil rights. Today, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) questioned Ashcroft on his commitment to upholding Roe v. Wade and the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE). When Feinstein asked whether Ashcroft would prioritize investigating and prosecuting cases of violence against abortion clinics and staff, Ashcroft hesitated before giving his answer, saying that he would uphold the law as it stands. He did not testify as to what he would actively pursue as attorney general in regards to clinic violence and abortion rights.

Yesterday, several Democratic Senators expressed concern over Ashcroft’s ability to enforce laws that conflicted with his personal and religious views, despite the fact that Ashcroft argued that, as Governor and as Attorney General of Missouri, he did uphold laws on abortion. Ashcroft’s voting record on abortion is overwhelmingly anti-choice; he is opposed to abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, and is opposed to most forms of contraception. He has repeatedly used his political position to further an extremist conservative view.

Yesterday, New York Senator Charles Schumer asked, “When you have been such a zealous and impassioned advocate for so long, how do you just turn it off? This may be an impossible task.” Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) stressed that the hearing would focus not on Ashcroft’s beliefs alone, but on how his beliefs would color the choices he will have to make as attorney general. “We will want to know what changes he will seek in the constitutional rights that Americans currently enjoy. These include what positions he would urge upon the Supreme Court; in particular, whether he’d ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade or to impose more burdensome restrictions on a woman’s ability to secure safe and legal contraceptives,” Leahy said.

Scheduled to testify today is Ronnie White, a black, pro-choice nominee for the Missouri Supreme Court. Ashcroft vehemently opposed his confirmation.

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Affirmative Action Case Highlights Importance of Federal Judicial Apppointments

Yesterday, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down a federal affirmative action measure designed to increase job opportunities for women and minorities in the broadcasting industry. The case highlights the importance of federal judicial appointments as the Senate confirmation hearing for Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft continues. A three-judge panel of Republican appointees (two nominated by Ronald Reagan and one by George Bush, Sr) called the affirmative action measure unconstitutional in this second federal decision since 1998 striking down affirmative action policies directed at broadcasters. Under the ruling, a company’s record on hiring women and minorities will no longer be a factor in deciding whether to renew a broadcaster’s license, despite the fact that statistics released yesterday show minority ownership of television stations at the lowest in a decade. The Bush administration has voiced opposition to affirmative action programs. Bush’s choice for Attorney General, whose role in refusing to confirm a black nominee for the Missouri State Supreme Court is under scrutiny today, would influence federal judicial appointments.

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Judge Rules Against Carhart in Ongoing Eviction Battle

On January 12, a Nebraska Judge dealt a blow to Dr. LeRoy Carhart in the case over Carhart’s eviction. Carhart, the abortion provider who successfully challenged Nebraska’s abortion procedure ban in Stenberg v. Carhart, sued the business partnership that bought the building where his abortion practice was located after they filed to evict him last May. District Court Judge William Zastera ruled that Carhart failed to post a $50,000 bond in a timely manner, and denied Carhart’s request for protection from eviction while the case is on appeal. When a Nebraska business partnership purchased the building last May, Carhart argued that his lease gave him first right to buy the building, but Zastera ruled that the purchase was legal, and ordered Carhart to pay the $50,000 bond to protect the new owners from potential losses during the appeal process. Carhart’s lawyer said that the bond was not paid on time because two bonding companies delayed their decision, and then refused to do business with Carhart. He will appeal the case to the Nebraska Supreme Court.

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Ashcroft’s Ideology Trumps Legal Judgment. 20-Year Anti-Women’s Rights Record Disqualifies Ashcroft

John Ashcroft is a totally anti-choice, anti-women’s rights nomination for Attorney General. Not only did Ashcroft staunchly oppose the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), as Missouri’s Attorney General he filed suit against the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1979. Ashcroft charged NOW with anti-trust violations and attempted to break the ERA convention boycott of unratified states. “John Ashcroft has been an ardent opponent of women’s rights for over 20 years,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority and NOW President during the Ashcroft anti-ERA lawsuit. “His willingness to stretch the law and use Missouri tax dollars to launch a three-year unsuccessful fight against NOW and the ERA all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court foreshadows how far he will go to fight and deny women’s rights,” added Smeal. “His utter lack of understanding of freedom of political speech and the right to take political action to achieve social justice exemplifies a track record where his right-wing ideology prevails over his legal judgment.”

“President-elect Bush promised to be a uniter and not a divider, yet Ashcroft’s opposition to legal abortion even in cases of rape and incest places him on the extreme edge of the far right that opposes all women’s rights advances,” said Smeal. As a U.S. Senator, Ashcroft did not support an amendment to the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1999 that would have prohibited anti-abortion extremists from using bankruptcy to discharge civil judgments against them for illegal anti-abortion activities. “Ashcroft’s position undermines a critical enforcement mechanism of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), which the Attorney General is chiefly responsible for enforcing,” continued Smeal.

In addition to his widely reported commencement address to, and honorary degree from, Bob Jones University, Ashcroft’s civil rights record falls far short of what must be demanded of a 21st Century Attorney General. In 1989 former President George Bush appointed Ashcroft to a federal commission to study the obstacles faced by minorities in America. Ashcroft was one of only two people on the 40-member panel who refused to sign the final report. He thought the report’s findings of discrimination were far too negative and “counterproductive.”

“The Attorney General must be able to recognize injustices in our society and work to remedy them _ he must neither rationalize, justify, nor run away from them,” said Smeal.

“How can an Attorney General that believes Southern Partisan is setting the record straight be able to lead in the enforcement of civil rights and women’s rights laws?” questioned Smeal. For the latest news on President-elect Bush’s Cabinet appointees and to take action to oppose anti-woman, anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-affirmative action nominees, visit the Feminist Majority Foundation’s newest online features and collaborations:

AppointmentWatch and TransitionWatch.

Learn about Roe v. Wade Day at www.RoevWadeDay.com and celebrate the 28th anniversary of this landmark decision on January 22. Take action online and in your community to make sure abortion rights are protected during this critical time.

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Civil Rights Commission Examines FL Voter Complaints

A US Commission on Civil Rights held a hearing last week in Florida to try to determine if the obstacles black and physically impaired voters encountered at the polls on November 7 were intentional. Problems at the polls included racial discrimination, inadequate assistance for physically impaired voters, faulty voting machines, increased police presence and wrongfully placing black voters on ineligible voter lists.

During the hearing, Katherine Harris, Florida Secretary of State and co-chairwoman of George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in Florida, testified that her department was too large for her to “manageƒor have expertise in everything” that goes on, and that Clay Roberts, Florida’s Division of Elections, was responsible for the day-to-day operations and briefed Harris only when necessary. Mary Frances Berry, chairwoman of the Commission called Harris’ description of her role in the November election “laughable” and said Harris “could have taken the time to brief herself on the responsibilities of the office.”

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Democrats Focus on Women’s Rights, Civil Rights in Opening Day of Ashcroft Hearing

The first session of the Senate confirmation hearing for John Ashcroft’s nomination to the position of attorney general began Tuesday morning with Democratic leaders coming out strong against Ashcroft’s anti-choice, anti-civil rights, and anti-woman record. Sen. Patrick Leahy, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, described the position of the Attorney General as one requiring the “full confidence and trust of the American people.”

Leahy continued with “Senator Ashcroft has often taken aggressively activist positions on a number of issues that deeply divide the American people.” In his opening statement, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) quickly pointed out Sen. Ashcroft’s self-serving history, saying, “We know that while serving in high office, he has time and time again aggressively used litigation and legislation in creative and inappropriate ways to advance his political and ideological goals.” Sen. Ashcroft has a record of using his power while in public office to advance his own extremist ideology, including fighting against desegregation efforts in St. Louis schools and working to abolish abortion rights. Sen. Kennedy continued, “How can we have any confidence at all that he will not do the same thing with the vast new powers he will have at his disposal as attorney general?”

Americans’ lack of confidence in Ashcroft is best shown in a recent Newsweek poll that shows 41 percent of those polled believe the Senate should reject Ashcroft’s nomination. Only 37 percent of people polled supported his nomination.

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), during the confirmation hearing, also raised questions about Ashcroft’s ability to enforce current laws such as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act and Roe v. Wade given his opposition to abortion even in cases of rape and incest.

Events surrounding the Senate confirmation hearings included a National Council of Women’s Organizations press conference Tuesday morning, at which Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority spoke along with other women’s rights leaders who announced their opposition to the nominations of both John Ashcroft for Attorney General and Gov. Tommy Thompson for Sec. of Health and Human Services.

“Women’s organizations are justifiably outraged over Bush’s appointment of right-wing, anti-women’s rights extremists,” said Smeal. “Based on their records, Ashcroft puts ideology over law and Thompson puts ideology over health policy,” added Smeal. “In both cases, women lose big.” The National Council of Women’s Organizations represents 120 women’s rights organizations with over 6 million members.

The National Organization for Women (NOW) also held a rally during the confirmation hearing on Tuesday voicing opposition to Ashcroft’s anti-choice, anti-woman, anti-gay record. NOW will rally again Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. at the Russell Senate building.

more on the Senate Confirmation Hearings and Cabinet appointees, visit AppointmentWatch and TransitionWatch.com

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Six Million Women’s Voices Blast Ashcroft and Thompson Nominations

A strong coalition of 120 women’s rights groups unite in opposition to John Aschcroft’s and Tommy Thompson’s nominations. “Women’s organizations are justifiably outraged over Bush’s appointment of right-wing, anti-women’s rights extremists,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “Based on their records, Ashcroft puts ideology over law and Thompson puts ideology over health policy,” added Smeal. “In both cases, women lose big.”

Many cast Ashcroft as extreme, while many cast Thompson as more moderate. “Let there be no mistake about it, both Ashcoft and Thompson want to criminalize abortion and make it a felony,” said Smeal. “Let us not forget that Thompson passed and signed into law a measure so punitive and extreme that it mandated a lifetime prison sentence for physicians who performed an abortion procedure that he deemed late-term abortion,” added Smeal. However, the statute, ultimately declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, was written so vaguely it could have reached all abortions.

Both Ashcroft and Thompson are supported and connected to extreme right-wing figures such as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Phyllis Schlafly, Ralph Reed, Bob Jones and Jesse Helms. Both Ashcroft and Thompson are connected to big tobacco. “When it comes to tobacco and guns, both Thompson and Ashcroft argue for the right to choose, but when it comes to a woman’s right to choose, they argue for criminal penalties,” proclaimed Smeal.

Both Ashcroft and Thompson have anti-women’s rights records outside the abortion issue. Ashcroft fought the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and is fighting the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Ashcroft also has an abysmal record of appointing women. He appointed not a single woman to his initial Governor’s cabinet, ranking dead last among all 50 governors. Thompson has harshly penalized poor single mothers with his so-called welfare reform which in actuality is nothing more than welfare elimination. Both Ashcroft and Thompson have gutted and fought handgun control laws, going so far as supporting laws that allow guns to be carried in public. “Both are in the pocket of the NRA and not at all sympathetic to the Million Mom March,” said Smeal.

“President-Elect Bush has nominated anti-women extremists to the very cabinet positions that can hurt women’s rights and women’s lives the most,” said Smeal.

For the latest news on President-elect Bush’s Cabinet appointees and to take action to oppose anti-woman, anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-affirmative action nominees, visit the Feminist Majority Foundation’s newest online features and colaborations:

AppointmentWatch and TransitionWatch.

Learn about Roe v. Wade Day at www.RoevWadeDay.com and celebrate the 28th anniversary of this landmark decision on January 22. Take action online and in your community to make sure abortion rights are protected during this critical time.

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National Women’s Groups Oppose Ashcroft, Thompson Nominations

A non-partisan network of over 120 organizations representing more than six million women announce their opposition to the nominations of John Ashcroft as Attorney General and Tommy Thompson as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The groups will hold a press conference on Tuesday, January 16 at 9:30 am at the National Press Club.

Speakers will include Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority; Patricia Ireland, President of the National Organization for Women; Martha Burk, Chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations; Sheila Coates, President of Black Women United for Action; Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich, Executive Director of the Black Leadership Forum; Vicki Saporta, Executive Director of the National Abortion Federation; Samme Moshenberg, Director of the National Council of Jewish Women; and Kathy Rodgers, Executive Director of NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Take action to oppose Bush’s anti-woman nominations. Visit FM’s Appointment Watch for the latest news on Bush Cabinet appointments and take action to oppose anti-woman, anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-affirmative action nominees.

Check out RoevWadeDay.com, FM’s site in celebration of the 28th anniversary of the landmark decision legalizing abortion, and take action online and in your community to protect abortion rights during this critical time.

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Resigned NH Rep Advocated Domestic Violence

New Hampshire Representative Tom Alciere resigned after controversy stemming from the anti-police messages he posted to the internet from 1999-2001; he was also criticized for his comments in defense of violence against women. Nashua police officers reported that he had written several letters to the editor of local papers advocating domestic violence, and implying that women “need” to be beaten. Alciere, a Republican who ran for office in the past both as a Libertarian and as a Democrat, campaigned on the promise to do away with all laws that infringed upon “freedom,” and his legislative proposals included eliminating mandatory education and penalties for drunk driving.

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Elaine Chao Nominated as Labor Secretary

Union leaders showed cautious optimism at the nomination of Elaine Chao as Labor Secretary. Wife of Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, Chao has a record of conservative public service. She is a fellow at the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation and serves on several boards of directors including Dole Food Co., Northwest Airlines Inc. and the National Association of Security Dealers Inc., parent company of the Nasdaq Stock Market. Chao is also on the National Advisory Board of the anti-feminist Independent Women’s Forum. She was Director of the Peace Corps, President and CEO of the United Way, and Vice President of Bank America Capital Markets Group.

Like several other Bush appointees, Chao’s government career began under Regan in 1983, specializing in transportation and trade issues on the Domestic Policy Council. Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole brought Chao back to Washington in 1986 by as deputy administrator of the Federal Maritime Administration. Chao later became deputy transportation secretary, the highest ranking Asian-American in the executive branch at the time.

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Sen. Boxer is First to Voice Opposition to Ashcroft

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is the first senator to publicly oppose the confirmation of Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft. Boxer has urged President-elect Bush to withdraw his nomination of Ashcroft, questioning Ashcroft’s ability to enforce laws protecting women’s rights, abortion rights, civil rights, and gun control. Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) promised to ask tough questions of Ashcroft during Senate hearings. Feinstein referred to California’s predominantly pro-choice, pro-gun control, and pro-civil rights position when she said she wanted an Attorney General who would enforce the law “not only by word, but also by body, language, and deed.”

To learn more about President-elect Bush’s Cabinet nominees, log on to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s newest online feature„AppointmentWatch at http://www.feminist.org/appointmentwatch.

TAKE ACTION TODAY against Bush’s anti-choice, anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-civil rights nominees. Sen. John Ashcroft for Attorney General, Gov. Tommy Thompson for Sec. of Health & Human Services and Gail Norton for Secretary of the Interior.

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FDA Approves Late-Stage Breast Cancer Treatment

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Femara, a new hormone drug treatment option for women with late-stage breast cancer. Currently, tamoxifen is most often used to treat breast cancer in its later stages. An international study found the Swiss made drug to give women with late-stage breast cancer as much as 9 months before the cancer progressed. Women treated with tamoxifen generally have six months before disease progression. The additional time is crucial, allowing women to postpone more toxic chemotherapy treatment. Femara works by blocking an enzyme related to tumor growth, while tamoxifen stops estrogen from binding to tumor receptors.

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NAACP Launches Lawsuit Against FL Voting Officials

The NAACP and other civil rights groups have filed a class action lawsuit against Florida voting officials on behalf of black residents who were not allowed to vote in the November 7 presidential election. The suit, filed against Sec. of State Katherine Harris, Director of the state Division of Elections Clay Roberts, several election supervisors and other election officials, alleges some black citizens were unfairly turned away at the polls for no reason, were wrongly classified as “inactive” voters or completely dropped from voter lists, were erroneously listed as having criminal records and were banned from voting, did not receive new voter registration cards, and were told that polls were closed before actual closing times. The lawsuit asks a federal judge to eliminate punch-card ballots, fix the state’s system for purging voter lists, and monitor Florida elections for the next 10 years.

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Police Family Violence Whistle Blower Found Guilty of Criminal Contempt

Robert Mullally, a former legal consultant who exposed serious family violence involving officers in the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), was found in criminal contempt on Friday in federal district court in Los Angeles. Mullally was joined at the courthouse by Penny Harrington, director of the National Center for Women & Policing, a division of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

“The prosecution of Robert Mullally is tragic,” said Harrington. “It is outrageous that a whistle blower„who has exposed such serious abuse committed by LAPD officers and the mishandling by the department of complaints against officers involved in domestic violence„is punished while most of the men who committed these acts of violence remain officers in good standing.”

The charges against Robert Mullally stem from the release of LAPD domestic abuse complaint records obtained in conjunction with a lawsuit against The Department brought by the family of Melba Terre Ramos, whose ex-husband, an LAPD officer, shot and killed her and her then-boyfriend in August of 1992, and then killed himself. The acquired records reflected a pattern of domestic violence within the Department, and documented the LAPD’s failure to investigate, prosecute and discipline officers engaging in brutal wife-beating and family violence.

After the case was settled in 1997 against the LAPD for $1.5 million, Mullally released the files in 1997 to former KCBS-TV investigative reporter, Harvey Levin, generating a two-part expose, which criticized the LAPD for turning a blind eye to police family violence. The story resulted in a “60 Minutes” segment about the case, featuring interviews with Harrington and Feminist Majority Foundation National Coordinator Katherine Spillar. The media attention generated by the KCBS report and the persistent urging of the National Center for Women & Policing and Feminist Majority Foundation triggered an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General of the LAPD. The report exposed widespread domestic violence committed by LAPD officers and found that members of the force who battered their spouses were rarely prosecuted and often faced only light in-house discipline.

The investigation resulted in some reforms in the handling of domestic violence cases in the LAPD. However, according to the National Center for Women & Policing, accounts of domestic violence continue to be reported by spouses of acting LAPD officers. “The reforms have not been fully implemented and batterers continue to suffer few consequences,” continued Harrington. The National Center for Women & Policing called for a follow-up investigation into the LAPD’s ongoing mishandling of domestic violence committed by LAPD officers and for departmental reforms in the way the LAPD disciplines officers guilty of abuse.

Mullally could face 6 months jail time; sentencing will occur March 27, 2001.

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Chavez Withdraws; Possible Labor Appointees Include Right-Wingers

Linda Chavez, Bush’s anti-affirmative action, anti-pay equity, anti-minimum wage, and anti-gay and lesbian rights choice for Labor Secretary, withdrew from the running late yesterday afternoon. Bush has not officially announced a new nominee, but several conservative figures are reportedly in the running: Jim Talent, Rich Bond, Jennifer Dunn, Eloise Anderson, Elaine Chao, and Stephen Goldsmith.

  • Representative Jennifer Dunn (R-WA) is a member of the Washington State chapter of the Independent Women’s Forum, an anti-women’s rights, anti-gay and lesbian, anti-affirmative action organization with an anti-environmental protection, pro-school vouchers, anti-welfare reform that helps women, anti-gay and lesbian rights, and anti-gun control voting record.
  • Eloise Anderson, a former employee of Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, is Director of the Program for the American Family at the Claremont Institute, a right-wing think tank that is anti-labor unions, anti-gay and lesbian rights and anti-affirmative action.
  • Elaine Chao is a member of the Heritage Foundation and of the Independent Women’s Forum, both anti-women’s rights, anti-affirmative action, and anti-lesbian and gay rights ultra-conservative groups.
  • Stephen Goldsmith, Bush’s campaign advisor on domestic policy, is Chairman for the Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) at the Manhattan Institute, a think-tank that produces anti-feminist research and backs faith-based initiatives that would replace much-needed social service programs.
  • Jim Talent is a former representative from the state of Missouri who recently lost his bid for governor. Talent served as Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, and was a labor lawyer arguing on behalf of the management side.
  • Rich Bond, former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, has voiced support for the Christian Right.
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OK Rep. Wants RU 486 to be Illegal

Oklahoma State Rep. Bill Graves (R-OK) has introduced a state law that would make the distribution or prescription of RU 486 a felony and punishable by up to $1,000 and/or two years in prison. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the sale and distribution of RU 486 in September 2000, but Graves believes a state law can supercede the federal ruling. However, the National Conference of State Legislatures has said that state governments do not have the power to impose such a law.

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Two Woman’s Rights Activists Die

Beatrice S. Burstein, noted feminist, social activist and New York State Supreme Court Justice, died this weekend at age 85. Burstein began her thirty-year judicial career when appointed to the New York State Commission of Correction„she was the first woman to serve in this position. Justice Burstein also used her Supreme Court appointment to advocate for social activism and children’s rights.

Former president of Barnard College, Millicent Carey McIntosh, known for her feminist activism in the 1940s, also passed away last week at the age of 102. McIntosh was ahead of her time throughout her career in academia, spreading message of women’s equality, education and family that would become popular decades later. In her lectures, she urged parents to raise their daughters to be strong and not to diminish their own interests and intelligence.

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20-Year Anti-Women’s Rights Record Disqualifies Ashcroft

John Ashcroft is a totally anti-choice, anti-women’s rights nomination for Attorney General. Not only did Ashcroft staunchly oppose the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), as Missouri’s Attorney General he filed suit against the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1979. Ashcroft charged NOW with anti-trust violations and attempted to break the ERA convention boycott of unratified states. “John Ashcroft has been an ardent opponent of women’s rights for over 20 years,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority and former NOW President during the Ashcroft anti-ERA lawsuit. “His willingness to stretch the law and use Missouri tax dollars to launch a three-year unsuccessful fight against NOW and the ERA all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court foreshadows how far he will go to fight and deny women’s rights,” added Smeal. “His utter lack of understanding of freedom of political speech and the right to take political action to achieve social justice exemplifies a track record where his right-wing ideology prevails over his legal judgment.”

“President-elect Bush promised to be a uniter and not a divider, yet Ashcroft’s opposition to legal abortion even in cases of rape and incest places him on the extreme edge of the far right that opposes all women’s rights advances,” said Smeal. As a U.S. Senator, Ashcroft did not support an amendment to the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1999 that would have prohibited anti-abortion extremists from using bankruptcy to discharge civil judgments against them for illegal anti-abortion activities. “Ashcroft’s position undermines a critical enforcement mechanism of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), which the Attorney General is chiefly responsible for enforcing,” continued Smeal.

In addition to his widely reported commencement address to, and honorary degree from, Bob Jones University, Ashcroft’s civil rights record falls far short of what must be demanded of a 21st Century Attorney General. In 1989 former President George Bush appointed Ashcroft to a federal commission to study the obstacles faced by minorities in America. Ashcroft was one of only two people on the 40-member panel who refused to sign the final report. He thought the report’s findings of discrimination were far too negative and “counterproductive.”

“The Attorney General must be able to recognize injustices in our society and work to remedy them _ he must neither rationalize, justify, nor run away from them,” said Smeal. “How can an Attorney General that believes Southern Partisan is setting the record straight be able to lead in the enforcement of civil rights and women’s rights laws?” questioned Smeal.

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Congressional Black Caucus Protests FL Electoral Votes

During a joint session of Congress in which electoral votes were officially tallied, ten members of the Congressional Black Caucus submitted their opposition to the 25 electoral votes from the state of Florida cast for George W. Bush and Richard Cheney. Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Carrie P. Meek (D-FL), Corrine Brown (D-FL), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Elijah E. Cummings (D-NC), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), and Eva M. Clayton (D-MD) presented a letter stating that Florida’s 25 electoral votes “were not regularly given in that the plurality of votes in the State of Florida were in fact cast for” Gore and Lieberman. Lacking the required Senate signature, the letter did not successfully block the counting of the electoral votes, which were eventually tallied in favor of Bush and Cheney. But, for 20 minutes, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, most of them women, took to the floor to voice their opposition and to expose the voting irregularities, tactics of intimidation, undercounting, and other strategies used to disenfranchise black voters in the 2000 presidential election. Twelve members walked out of the proceedings, including the ten who submitted the protest letter and Jesse Jackson JR (D-IL). “I want America to understand that African Americans were not given process in this election,” Florida Representative Carrie Meek asserted. “[African-Americans] exercised what we thought was our legal right, only to have it nullified by faulty and defective voting machines distributed discriminatorily, targeted in our neighborhoods, nullified by purge of voting lists, and on and on.” Georgia Representative Cynthia McKinney spoke of false felony charges, purged voter registration lists, lack of translators at the polls, and other “gross violations of the Voting Rights Act.” “Let the world know that we failed in upholding our democratic principles,” stated Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), “and that it was the Reagan-Bush Supreme Court, not the people of the United States, who decided the outcome of this election.”

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Labor Opposes Chavez Nomination; Dolores Huerta Speaks Out

Stating that the Linda Chavez nomination is an affront to labor, the AFL-CIO is gearing up to stop Chavez’s nomination as Labor Secretary. Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, Board Member of the Feminist Majority, and leading champion for Latina women, has announced that she will strongly oppose Chavez’s nomination. Huerta is currently recovering from an illness. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) will chair the Senate Labor Committee until January 20, and will preside over the January 16 and 17 confirmation hearing for Chavez. Kennedy said that Chavez has a “long-standing hostility to the basic rights of American workers.” Chavez opposes affirmative action, the minimum wage, pay equity; she has an equally bad record on lesbian and gay rights, opposing non-discrimination laws that cover sexual orientation.

Other confirmation hearings have been scheduled:

January 10: the Health, Education and Labor Committee will consider Rod Paige’s nomination for Education Secretary. January 11: Donald Rumsfeld’s nomination as Secretary of Defense will be considered in the Armed Services Committee. January 16: Foreign Relations Committee will vote on Colin Powell’s nomination as Secretary of State and Environment and Public Works Committee will consider Christine Todd Whitman’s nomination as EPA administrator. January 18: Energy and Natural Resources Committee will vote on Spencer Abraham’s nomination as Energy Secretary and on Gale Norton’s nomination as Secretary of the Interior.

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