Last Updated 10/25/02
Attorney General John Ashcroft
Calling him "a man of great integrity, a man of great judgment and a man who knows the
law," President George W. Bush announced his decision to nominate John Ashcroft to serve as
Attorney General of the United States on December 22, 2000. Upon confirmation by the Senate,
Ashcroft pledged to renew the war on drugs, reduce the incidence of gun violence and combat
discrimination so no American feels outside the protection of the law.
Ashcroft was born in Chicago, Illinois, on May 9, 1942. He was raised in Springfield,
Missouri, where he attended public schools until enrolling at Yale University, where he graduated with
honors in 1964. He received his J.D. from the University of Chicago in 1967. He began his career of
public service in 1973 as Missouri Auditor and was later elected to two terms as the state's Attorney
General. His ability to work with leaders of both political parties prompted his colleagues in the non-partisan National Association of Attorneys General to choose him as Chairman.
Ashcroft was elected Governor of Missouri in 1984 and held that post until 1993. During his
tenure, he balanced eight consecutive budgets and served as Chairman of the Education Commission
of the States. Fortune magazine rated him one of the top ten education governors in the country,
while Financial World and City and State magazines credited him with making Missouri one of the
best financially managed states in the country. He also spearheaded the state's efforts to reduce the
use of illegal drugs. In 1991, the non-partisan National Governors Association elected him Chairman.
He was elected to the Senate in 1994 and maintained a near-perfect voting attendance record
while working to combat illegal drugs, increase the quality of public education, reduce crime and
safeguard the rights of crime victims. Ashcroft worked closely with Missouri law enforcement
officers, developing strategies to counter the state's methamphetamine problems. He co-sponsored
the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. He fought to toughen the penalties for gun
crimes by substantially increasing mandatory minimum prison sentences for the criminal misuse of
firearms. During his time in the Senate, Ashcroft was a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee
and Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee.
Prior to entering public service, Ashcroft taught business law at Southwest Missouri State
University in Springfield. He authored the book Lessons from a Father to His Son, a tribute to his
father, and co-authored multiple editions of two college law textbooks with his wife, Janet. John and
Janet Ashcroft have three children: Martha, John and Andrew, and one grandchild, Jimmy Patterson.
Attorney General Ashcroft is committed to confronting injustice by leading a professional
Justice Department free from politics, defined by integrity and dedicated to upholding the rule of law.
He will make certain that the Justice Department fulfills its promise and honors its heritage-not only
by enforcing the rule of law, but by guaranteeing rights for the advancement of all Americans.