Civil Rights Leaders Urge Close Study of Gonzales
Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
More than two dozen national civil rights leaders, saying they have "serious concern" over the nomination of White House counsel Alberto Gonzales as attorney general, yesterday challenged a Senate committee to closely scrutinize his "record, his positions and his future plans for the Justice Department."
As part of a growing chorus of criticism over the nomination, which senators last week said was certain to be approved, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights - in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, and the panel's ranking Democrat, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont - wants the committee to determine Mr. Gonzales' "suitability" to head the Justice Department.
"The attorney general is the nation's chief law-enforcement official, with responsibility for enforcing federal law on behalf of all persons under the Constitution," the letter said. "We strongly believe this appointment is one of the most important any president can make, and your constitutionally mandated review of Mr. Gonzales' nomination is especially important.
"We believe there are aspects of Mr. Gonzales' record that raise concerns and must be closely scrutinized by the Judiciary Committee before you and the American people can determine his suitability for the position of attorney general," it said.
The letter was signed by Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; Mark D. Agrast, a senior vice president at the Center for American Progress; Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice; Marsha Atkind, president of the National Council of Jewish Women; and Charles J. Brown, president of Citizens for Global Solutions.
Last week, the liberal People For the American Way, which helped organize more than 200 groups to oppose the 2000 nomination of Attorney General John Ashcroft, issued a similar challenge on the Gonzales nomination. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said it was taking "no official position" on the nomination, but called for a thorough Senate confirmation process that scrutinizes his positions on key civil liberties and human rights issues. …