George Bush’s nomination of John Ashcroft as attorney general of the
United States could not suit me more. Ashcroft is an outstanding
nomination, especially on the heels of the most corrupt Justice
Department in the history of the nation.

Ashcroft is an evangelical Christian, scrupulously honest, genuinely
conservative, a former Missouri attorney general, governor and United
States senator. He has stellar academic credentials, having graduated
from Yale with honors and the prestigious University of Chicago School
of Law. He is a man of unimpeachable integrity who is without skeletons.

The wisdom of the Ashcroft appointment is further demonstrated by the
quality of Ashcroft’s most outspoken opponents, some of whom are
paralyzed with panic. Militant feminist Kate Michelman said that
Ashcroft is “a real danger to women’s rights.” Translation: those who
are staunchly pro-life should be disqualified from public service. Ralph
Neas, president of the People for the American Way, said, “I don’t
believe anyone in the U.S. Senate has a worse record on civil rights and
civil liberties.” Translation: Ashcroft had the political courage to
oppose the nomination of Bill Lann Lee as Chief of the Justice
Department’s Civil Rights Division. Lann Lee’s nomination was rejected
by the Senate, but Clinton illegally installed Lee anyway to head Civil
Rights, completely thwarting the Senate’s advice and consent role. As
Ashcroft and others predicted, Lee has turned the Civil Rights Division
into a zealous agency for enforcement of affirmative action initiatives
deemed illegal by the United States Supreme Court.

The attorney general is one of the most important positions in the
executive branch. Article II, Section 1 of the United States
Constitution vests the president with the executive power of the United
States of America. He is the nation’s chief executive officer. Article
II, Section 3 provides that the president “shall take care that the laws
be faithfully executed.” The Department of Justice is the primary
government agency charged with the implementation of the president’s
constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws.

The foreword to a 1927 primer on the Department of Justice emphasizes
the Justice Department’s central role in law enforcement:

Probably the most essential function of government is the maintenance
of law and order. A government that does not protect its citizens in the
orderly conduct of their affairs and ensure the enforcement of its
commands as expressed in law, is not only derelict in respect to one of
its primary duties, but also brings itself into contempt, and thus lays
the basis for failure in respect to all its other undertakings. … This
task of law enforcement presents one of the important problems of
administration confronting the national government. The Department of
Justice is the central agency for the performance of this task.

As the Department of Justice is entrusted with the duty of
impartially enforcing the law, it is important that to the maximum
extent possible it stay above politics. When justice is administered
unfairly, when those in power are treated as being above the law, the
system tends to disintegrate.

Sadly, the Clinton administration displayed an ugly contempt for the
cherished institutions of our government. That attitude unfortunately
trickled down into the halls of Main Justice. The Clinton-Gore-Reno
Justice Department left in its wake a system corrupted under the
influence of executive privilege and power. President-elect Bush and
Sen. Ashcroft have their work cut out for them. The Clinton-Gore-Reno
years provide a regrettable example of the horrors of politicized
justice in America. Bush and Ashcroft will have this sordid legacy as a
constant reminder of how bad things can be when justice is perverted and
subordinated to the whims and interests of a political class of would-be

President-elect Bush, in nominating Sen. Ashcroft, said that Ashcroft
satisfied his three requirements for the spot: integrity, executive
prowess and “a commitment to fair and firm and impartial administration
of justice.” Amen. In accepting the nomination, Sen. Ashcroft affirmed
his commitment to “equal justice under the law” and to the concept
embodied in the inscription on the United States Supreme Court building,
“Justice, the guardian of liberty.”

Ashcroft’s recognition of justice as indispensable to our liberties
is abundantly reassuring to those of us who long for a restoration of
the rule of law for this great nation. We anxiously wait for the long
overdue cleansing to begin.

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