President Bush has accepted the resignation of Attorney General John Ashcroft, according to White House spokesman Scott McClellan. Ashcroft sent a five-page, handwritten letter to Bush Tuesday announcing his plan to resign. "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved,” he wrote.
A consistent and vocal critic of Adult content, Ashcroft’s resignation will generally be seen by the industry as a positive development, but not everyone is quite so sanguine about what Ashcroft’s resignation augurs for the business.
"This spells an uncertain future for the Adult industry,” said Lawrence Walters, an industry attorney with the law firm Weston, Garrou & DeWitt. “Although many in this industry have hoped for Ashcroft's ouster, Bush's current indebtedness to the evangelicals may mean that we end up with someone worse, with a clear axe to grind against erotica. This situation bears close scrutiny."
Clyde DeWitt, Walters’ colleague, echoed the concern. “Remember history,” he wrote. “Religious-Right and anti-erotica-advocate Edwin Meese’s term ended in August 1988, and he was succeeded by Richard Thornburg whom, as it turned out, offered no relief. He continued to re-fuel Meese’s runaway locomotive, sponsoring the 1988 obscenity-law upgrade and supervising the DOJ’s pillage over the Adult mail-order and video industries, which lasted until Bush (Sr.) was ousted in the 1992 presidential election.”
As far as replacements go, CBS News reported today that several names top the list, including ex-New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, former deputy attorney general Larry Thompson, former Montana Governor Mark Racicot, United Nations Ambassador John F. Danforth, and White House general counsel Alberto Gonzales.
McClellan declined to say when the president would nominate a successor.
There has also been unconfirmed speculation within and without the industry that Ashcroft is exiting the Department of Justice in anticipation of being nominated for a seat on the Supreme Court, should a spot open up. But Ashcroft was cryptic rather than clear about his plans for the near future. "I believe that my energies and talents should be directed toward other challenging horizons,” he wrote in his resignation letter.