Pro-life activists are criticizing President Bush’s choice of Alberto Gonzales to replace John Ashcroft as attorney general, worrying the White House counsel will not aggressively uphold the administration’s anti-abortion stance.

Gonzales is a former member of the Texas Supreme Court, where he voted to allow a teenager to get an abortion without notifying her parents, circumventing the notification law in that state. At the time he criticized the position taken by his colleague on the court, Priscilla Owen, who voted against allowing the abortion. Gonzales said dissenting from his majority opinion “would be an unconscionable act of judicial activism.”

His comments later were used by Democrats in the U.S. Senate who blocked Owen’s confirmation to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Chuck Baldwin, a pastor and columnist, slammed Gonzales, citing the Texas case and stating, “Gonzales is anything but pro-life.” reported not all pro-lifers condemn Gonzales for voting to allow the Texas abortion, quoting Ramesh Ponnuru, the pro-life senior editor of National Review.

“My conclusion was that while the dissenters had the better argument about how to construe the statute, the cases do not prove Gonzales to be a lawless judge, a supporter of Roe v. Wade, or even a proponent of a right to abortion,” Ponnuru said.

The site pointed out there may be a silver lining to the Gonzales appointment: It takes him out of the running for a Supreme Court appointment should Chief Justice William Rehnquist leave the court due to health problems.

Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family Action, offered guarded praise for today’s AG pick.

“We know the great personal regard President Bush has for Mr. Gonzales, and we wish him well in his challenging new assignment,” Minnery said in a statement.

“It will now be Mr. Gonzalez’s duty to defend the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act against the federal court challenges that have blocked its implementation – a duty handled admirably by Attorney General Ashcroft. American families will also look to Mr. Gonzalez to aggressively prosecute obscenity cases against pornographers who continue to flout federal law.”

Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, on the other hand, effused about Gonzales.

“Alberto Gonzales is an outstanding attorney who … will bring a wealth of experience to the post and a keen understanding of the law that will enable him to excel as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer,” Sekulow said in a statement. “Gonzales has been with the president for many years and served on the Texas Supreme Court. He will be an attorney general who will work diligently to protect America, the Constitution and the rule of law. During this dangerous time for our nation, Gonzales is the perfect person for this demanding job.”

Gonzales was Bush’s general counsel when he was governor of Texas and also served as secretary of state there.

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