Editor’s Note: Among John Ashcroft’s observations during his question and answer session was, “If you don’t want to see blood, don’t get into politics.” With a long career in Missouri and national political life, solid conservative views, and a strong Christian faith, John has been no stranger to victory or defeat. In older times, public figures were said to suffer the “slings and arrows” of their opponents. In the argot of John’s day, he was pilloried in the public square with the nastier terms of “racist and homophobe.” You can get a sense of the kind of blood that got spilled on the floor in his case from three articles in the Washington Post published in early 2001. This was during the Senate confirmation hearings that followed John’s nomination by President George W. Bush to serve as U.S. Attorney General.
On April 30,2022, in Seminar Room F at the University of Chicago Law School, John answered questions posed to him by fellow panel members, classmates David Minge and Duncan Kilmartin. As with John, both of these gentlemen knew something about the political life , with David having served as me member the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota, and Duncan having had many years of elected service in the Vermont legislature.
John was reflective and good humored as he looked back on his public life, and philosophical as he looked at the nature of democracy, and the tensions between individual liberty, and the concomitant obligations of citizens to the public good and the rule of law.
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