Ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy (D-VT) heightened pressure on Senate Democrats yesterday when he officially announced that he will vote against the confirmation of John Ashcroft for U.S. Attorney General. Leahy is the highest-ranking Democrat to announce his opposition to Ashcroft, and was joined yesterday by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY). Both expressed serious concern about Ashcroft’s ability to enforce the law fairly given his record as Missouri Governor, State Attorney General and Senator. Leahy mentioned Ashcroft’s questionable record on civil rights, abortion rights, gun control, gay rights, and the role of judiciary.
The Judiciary Committee will vote this afternoon, and the entire Senate could vote by the end of this week. Feminist, pro-choice, and other activist groups are focusing on Democratic senators who have not yet announced how they will vote, especially Wisconsin Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold.