Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) used his power as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee to postpone the vote on John Ashcroft’s nomination as Attorney General for at least a week. The delay will allow Ashcroft to answer the over 300 questions submitted by Democratic Senators on the Judiciary Committee. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) had scheduled the vote for today. While Republicans are confident that Ashcroft will be confirmed, opposition among Democrats has been mounting.
Women’s rights and civil rights groups, including the Feminist Majority Foundation, have generated millions of e-mail and phone messages, letters and faxes to various Senators, urging them to oppose Ashcroft’s nomination based on his anti-woman, anti-choice, anti-civil rights, anti-lesbian and gay rights, anti-gun control record.
Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer (CA), Evan Bayh (IN), Jon Corzine (NJ), Paul Wellstone (MN), and Jack Reed (RI) have made public announcements that they will oppose Ashcroft’s confirmation. Other Democratic Senators have issued statements on their doubts as to whether Aschcroft will fairly and effectively enforce laws he has opposed, given his record of using his political position to further an extremist conservative agenda. Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) are some of the Senators who have expressed concern over Ashcroft’s record on civil rights, race relations, and abortion rights. Feinstein and Kennedy asked tough questions during the hearings, pressing Ashcroft on his seeming conversion during the hearings. Other Senators who were critical during the hearings include Charles Schumer (D-NY), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
For more information on John Ashcroft, visit FMF’s Appointment Watch at www.feminist.org/appointmentwatch.