Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Andy attacks Ashcroft for "his lack of any conservative initiative in nearly two years." John responds:
Lack of any conservative initiative?? What about his May 17, 2001 letter supporting the Second Amendment as an individual right (reproduced here with several typos corrected).

The highly publicized Ashcroft letter probably played a pivotal role in the 5th Circuit's long-delayed decision in U.S. v. Emerson, (see also NRA and SAF which the court finally released on Oct 16, 2001, 16 months after it was argued.

And what about his November 6, 2001 ruling that DEA-licensed physicians may not use controlled substances for assisted suicide in Oregon because assisting suicide can never be a "legitimate medical purpose". See also this memo.

And litigating the issue in Oregon v. Ashcroft which is now on appeal to the 9th Circuit; see DOJ and Amici briefs filed Sept 23, 2002.

Like the Second Amendment memo, Ashcroft's position on physician assisted suicide reversed a position taken by the Clinton Administration; for details, see Nat. Review and PCCEF.

Good points. I happen to like Ashcroft because he is as good as we are likely to see on some of my favorite issues, like guns, copyrights, and crypto.

Ashcroft's position on Oregon assisted suicide has infuriated liberals who call him a hypocrite because it seems like he is acting contrary to right wing federalism and following his own personal religious beliefs. But he is just enforcing the law that says that federal controlled substances are restricted to legitimate medical purpose. Allowing physicians to deliberately kill patients seems like a really bad idea to me. Oregon is doing the experiment, and we'll see how it works out. But in the mean time, there should be no support for it at the federal level.

Andy responds:
Though Ashcroft has been in power nearly two years, John only cited 2 conservative things he's done.

First, John cites Ashcroft's letter to the NRA, which had no more legal effect than a letter by you or me. (Oddly, it's posted on the EF website as a "statement" without a description of its context as a letter to the NRA.)

John claims conservatives won in the Emerson case because of this letter. In fact, Ashcroft's subordinates aggressively tried and convicted Emerson simply for owning a gun, and he now faces up to 5 years in jail. The Fifth Circuit decision said the federal govt can infringe on the right to own a gun. That decision is nothing to brag about.

Second, John cites Ashcroft's reinstatement of the original Clinton DEA position against doctors prescribing suicide meds. Then the district court judge in that case held against Ashcroft, and noted that he had abandoned an argument based on Justice Thomas' decision in Oakland Cannabis.

On the other side of the ledger? Here is just a partial list of harmful actions by Ashcroft/DOJ:

(1) keeping Clinton appointees in power to supervise and eviscerate investigations of Clinton/Gore scandals.
(2) siding against abortion protesters in Scheidler case argued a week ago (was there any objection by RNC for Life?!)
(3) greatly expanding DOJ power in connection with Patriot Act, databases, etc.
(4) telling agencies to oppose FOIA requests, promising full DOJ support for stonewalling.
(5) turning FBI loose to monitor peaceful gatherings, the internet, and political groups.
(6) arresting and imprisoning the Russian engineering at a scientific conference, invoking the dreadful DMCA.
(7) insisting on forcibly drugging Dr. Sell, and continuing to hold in jail (>5 yrs) w/out a trial.
(8) maintaining the status quo on DOJ grants going to non-conservative groups (as far as I know).
(9) setting computer industry back 5 years by preserving Microsoft monopoly.
(10) avoiding and even cancelling appearances at conservative meetings; Justice Scalia speaks out for conservatism more than Ashcroft.
(11) withholding documents related to McVeigh investigation from the public, and firing no one for concealing them from McVeigh's counsel.
(12) destroying the Republican Party in Illinois with a massive, one-sided prosecution of state officials, dreadful legislation will soon result.
(13) using VAWA to prosecute ordinary murder, bungling the case in the process.
(14) failing to make arrests in the anthrax mailing murders, despite the small universe of govt-related suspects.
(15) destroying tens of thousands of innocent jobs by convicting and ruining corporations (Arthur Andersen) rather than culpable individuals.

There's probably more that I've missed.

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