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Senate Poised to Confirm Ashcroft as AG

HeadlineFeb 01, 2001

Today, the Senate is poised to confirm John Ashcroft as President Bush’s attorney general, ending a vitriolic Cabinet struggle. Despite the near certainty of Ashcroft’s confirmation, Democrats labored to muster enough nays to show Bush that Democrats could put up strong opposition to any potential Supreme Court nominee who, like Ashcroft, share the president’s views on abortion and states’ rights. Frustrating the task were a half-dozen Democrats who endorsed Ashcroft’s nomination, including Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, who declared his intention in less-than-glowing terms late yesterday. Dodd said, “I remain concerned that he will, as he appears to have done at times in the past, submit to the temptation to divide Americans along racial lines.”

Critics focused on Ashcroft’s battles against abortion and against a school desegregation lawsuit while serving as Missouri governor and attorney general. They also cited Ashcroft’s opposition to appointing James Hormel as the first openly gay U.S. ambassador. And they accused Ashcroft of using the nomination of Ronnie White to create a campaign issue. Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York said, “It’s his past willingness to bend and torture the law. It is not simply what he said, but what he did when he had executive power.”

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