John Ashcroft: making a federal case out of sin.
During his confirmation hearings in January 2001, some senators expressed concern that John Ashcroft John David Ashcroft (born May 9 1942) is an American politician who was the 79th United States Attorney General. He served during the first term of President George W. Bush from 2001 until 2005. Ashcroft was previously the Governor of Missouri (1985 – 1993) and a U.S. might allow his conservative Christian views to interfere with the position he sought as U.S. attorney general. In response, Ashcroft reassured them: "I understand that being attorney general means ... not enforcing my own personal preference; it means advancing the national interest, not advocating my personal interest." The Senate subsequently approved him.
Nonetheless, shortly after he took office a religious controversy within his department came to light. Ashcroft inaugurated a practice of holding daily prayer meetings in the Justice Department's main building. On May 15, 2001, Cybercast News Service The Cybercast News Service (also CNSNews.com) is a conservative news website operated by the Media Research Center. It was founded on June 16, 1998 under the name "Conservative News Service"; "Conservative" was changed to "Cybercast" in 2000 after the MRC was unable to reported that such activities were causing staffers who chose not to participate to feel uneasy and isolated. An unidentified employee stated that the daily prayer ritual "strikes me and a lot of others as offensive, disrespectful dis·re·spect·ful
Having or exhibiting a lack of respect; rude and discourteous.
disre·spect and unconstitutional .... It at least blurs the line [between church and state], and probably crosses it." Later that month, on May 28, Cable News Network described a policy of internal censorship wherein "new guidelines for documents bearing Ashcroft's signature bar the use of the word 'pride' and the phrase 'no higher calling [other than public service],' both of which contradict" Ashcroft's devout evangelical views.
After censoring words, Ashcroft graduated to censoring sculpture. The British Broadcasting Corporation (company) British Broadcasting Corporation - (BBC) The non-commercial UK organisation that commissions, produces and broadcasts television and radio programmes.
The BBC commissioned the "BBC Micro" from Acorn Computers for use in a television series about using computers. reported on January 29, 2002, that $8,000 had been spent on curtains to cover the Spirit of Justice and Majesty of the Law in the Justice Department building. These two statues, which Ashcroft stands in front of during press conferences, are in the shape of a woman with one breast exposed and a man who is nude but for his loin loin (loin) the part of the back between the thorax and pelvis.
The part of the body on either side of the spinal column between the ribs and the pelvis. region.
For example, the influence of conservative religious doctrine on Ashcroft's Justice Department doesn't end with internal matters. It more dramatically affects what the department does and how it does it. Although Ashcroft and other Bush Administration officials purport to be in favor of states' rights states' rights, in U.S. history, doctrine based on the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, which states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. , their actions can go in the opposite direction if an evangelical Christian principle is at stake.
That's exactly the situation with Oregon's Death with Dignity Act. Narrowly passed by Oregon voters in 1994, then overwhelmingly reaffirmed in 1997 against a repeal effort, its legality was confirmed with a 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision recognizing the right of states to legalize le·gal·ize
tr.v. le·gal·ized, le·gal·iz·ing, le·gal·iz·es
To make legal or lawful; authorize or sanction by law.
le or prohibit physician-assisted suicide. Since that time terminally ill Terminally Ill
When a person is not expected to live more than 12 months.
Any gifts given out by the afflicted person at this time may be considered as a dispersion of the estate rather than a gift. residents of Oregon have been able to secure prescriptions for lethal medications.
But as the editors of the Boston Globe report in a November 10, 2001, article: "Religious conservatives of many different faiths have opposed [Oregon's] law as an interference with divine will.... Now Ashcroft has instructed the Drug Enforcement Agency to revoke the license of any Oregon doctor who prescribes controlled substances to assist a patient's suicide." It seems the attorney general sought to defy the state of Oregon and the Supreme Court in an effort to use federal drug laws to stop sin.
Similarly, Ashcroft has stepped into California's affairs. The state's 1996 Proposition 215 permits physicians to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes and authorizes the growing and selling of the drug to those with doctors' prescriptions. Though federal law prohibits these actions, the Tenth Amendment The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
to the U.S. Constitution authorizes state law to prevail. Furthermore, Janet Reno, when attorney general, allowed California to act on Proposition 215. Ashcroft, by contrast, moved in February 2003 to crack down on California's medical marijuana industry.
Most recently, Ashcroft is using the department to intervene in the affairs of the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico hasn't used capital punishment capital punishment, imposition of a penalty of death by the state. History
Capital punishment was widely applied in ancient times; it can be found (c.1750 B.C.) in the Code of Hammurabi. since 1927; the island's constitution, which Congress approved in the Compact of 1952, forbids the death penalty. Yet Ashcroft is now attempting to override Puerto Rico's constitution by having two convicted men executed there. Apparently, to Ashcroft, scripture is clear. Exodus 21:12 (King James Version) reads, "He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death."
Conservative religious doctrine also seems to entice Ashcroft into making the Justice Department a federal vice squad. From April to September 2001, the FBI ran a wiretap wiretap n. using an electronic device to listen in on telephone lines, which is illegal unless allowed by court order based upon a showing by law enforcement of "probable cause" to believe the communications are part of criminal activities. on the Knock (N) Shop, a brothel in New Orleans, then busted the prostitutes in a federal crackdown. Missouri's Jefferson City News Tribune declares in a June 9, 2002, article that this "brothel investigation has some wondering why the FBI made a federal case out of it." The paper then asks, "Why [are] the FBI and federal prosecutors so interested in prostitution, a crime normally left to the local district attorney?" According to Senator Tom Daschle (Democrat, South Dakota): "If the FBI can spend resources investigating whether there is prostitution in New Orleans, they ought to be able to find the resources to investigate what happened in this country prior to 9/11."
Then there is the evangelical Christian issue of "creation science," offered as the polar opposite of evolution. This wasn't far below the surface when, in response to a complaint from a creationist student, Justice Department agents on January 21, 2003, threatened to take legal action against Texas Tech University Professor Michael Dini unless he dropped a statement on his website that, "If you cannot truthfully and forthrightly affirm a scientific answer to [the question of the origin of the human species] then you should not seek my recommendation for admittance Admittance
The ratio of the current to the voltage in an alternating-current circuit. In terms of complex current I and voltage V, the admittance of a circuit is given by Eq. (1), and is related to the impedance of the circuit Z by Eq. (2). to further education in the biomedical sciences." A Justice Department spokesperson explained the agency's involvement in the matter to the Associated Press on April 22, 2003: "A state-run university has no business telling students what they should or should not believe in." Dini was forced to change the statement on his website.
Sadly, Dini's case isn't the only example of the Justice Department involving itself in a small religious dispute. In Hawaii, the civil rights division of the Justice Department is now taking the island of Maui's planning department to court because the planners won't exempt a church from zoning ordinances and thus the church cannot erect a new building. The New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times reports that Maui's planners aren't allowing the new sanctuary because it "would increase traffic and noise and would burden the county's ability to deliver water as well as fire-prevention and police services." The Justice Department is taking Maul County to court under a law designed to give churches an advantage in zoning battles. But the New York Times states, "The constitutionality of the law is much disputed. An earlier, broader version of it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1997.... On June 24, a federal judge [ruled] ... the newer law's provisions on zoning unconstitutional."
So why is the Justice Department involved in a petty zoning battle? In the Maul News, the Benjamin N. Cardozo Benjamin Nathan Cardozo (May 24, 1870–July 9, 1938) is a well-known American jurist, and is remembered not only for his landmark decisions on negligence but also his modesty, philosophy, and writing style, which is considered remarkable for its prose and vividness. School of Law Professor Marci A. Hamilton, who led the 1997 Supreme Court case, offers her conclusion. "The Ashcroft Justice Department is just dramatically pro-religion."
Attorney General Ashcroft oversees ninety-three U.S. attorneys, the Antitrust Division, the U.S. Parole Commission, the Immigration and Naturalization Service Noun 1. Immigration and Naturalization Service - an agency in the Department of Justice that enforces laws and regulations for the admission of foreign-born persons to the United States
INS , the Federal Bureau of Investigation Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), division of the U.S. Dept. of Justice charged with investigating all violations of federal laws except those assigned to some other federal agency. , the solicitor general An officer of the U.S. Justice Department who represents the federal government in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The solicitor general is charged with representing the Executive Branch of the U.S. government in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. , the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Prisons, and the U.S. Marshals Service The U.S. Marshals Service, a division of the Justice Department, is the oldest federal law enforcement agency, having served as a link between the executive and judicial branches of the government since 1789. The president appoints U.S. marshals for terms of four years. . He wields tremendous power that can be directed toward his personal religious agenda. This was just what some senators feared when they made inquiries at his confirmation hearings--and their fears were justified. Furthermore, contrary to the reassuring implications he offered, Ashcroft has repeatedly placed his personal interests before the national interests, imposing his religious values on an often unwilling public. But that's how theocrats work. And that's why Humanists aren't surprised.
Michael Figura, a senior at the University of Virginia, is an intern for the American Humanist Association The American Humanist Association (AHA) is an educational organization in the United States that advances Humanism. It is the original Humanist organization, and embraces secular, religious, and other manifestations of Humanist philosophy. .