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2002-12-19

Why Isn’t Ashcroft in Lotts of Trouble? He Fought Integration of St. Louis Schools; He Praised Confederate Leaders Who Fought to Preserve Slavery; He Intervened On Behalf of a Supporter of the Council

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He persistently attempted to block school desegregation in his state; a federal court threatened to hold the state in contempt for his failure to comply with a court order.

He gave a lengthy interview to the Neo-Confederate magazine Southern Partisan, in which he praised Confederate leaders who fought to preserve slavery, including Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis.

He distorted the record of a highly qualified African American state Supreme Court Judge and misled his colleagues in the Senate, successfully sabotaging the judge’s nomination to a federal district court.

He received an honorary degree from Bob Jones University and spoke there just three years ago; the Christian university has a segregationist history and until recently banned interracial dating and marriage.

No, this is not the resume of the embattled Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott. It is the resume of the man who has already been entrusted to enforce the nation’s civil rights laws. We’re talking about Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Secretary of State General Colin Powell yesterday said he is disappointed in Senator Lott and he deplores the sentiments behind Lott’s statement. Two weeks ago, Lott said America would be better off today if Strom Thurmond had won the 1948 presidency on his "Segregation Forever" platform. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island became the first Republican Senator to call unambiguously for Lott to step down, and Florida Governor Jeb Bush also criticized the Senator.

As the criticism and calls for Lott’s resignation increase, we thought it’s time to take another look at Attorney General John Ashcroft. Democrats repeatedly denounced Ashcroft during the dramatic confirmation hearings of January, 2001. But then eight Democrats voted for him, and Senator Edward Kennedy declined to filibuster the nomination, even though he had the votes he needed. Then-Majority Leader Trent Lott had promised to deliver all fifty Republican votes to Ashcroft before the confirmation hearings even began, and he did it.

Guests:

  • John Hickey, executive director of the Missouri Citizen Education Fund.
  • Minnie Liddell, parent who filed a class action suit against the St. Louis City Board of Education in 1972. The case was only recently settled.
  • Joe Conason, columnist with the New York Observer and Salon.com.
  • Ralph Neas, President for People for the American Way.

Tape:

  • Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) asks John Ashcroft why he tried to block school desegregation in St. Louis at Ashcroft’s confirmation hearings.
  • Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) discusses Ashcroft’s interview with the new-Confederate magazine, Southern Partisan, at Ashcroft’s confirmation hearings; (January, 2001).

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