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Equal Opportunity Under the Law
Interfaith Alliance--January 15, 2001
© Rabbi Jack Moline

Good morning. I am Rabbi Jack Moline, a member of the Board of Directors of The Interfaith Alliance and rabbi of Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, Virginia. I am privileged to stand among these honored members of diverse faith communities today. We join in a single purpose: to voice our expectation that the United States Senate will insist that "equal protection under the law" remain the primary concern of our next Attorney General.

I hope it is clear to you, to Senator Ashcroft and to all of America that I applaud the deep faith convictions of our leaders. Public service is demanding and frequently lonely. The courage and inspiration which comes from a personal faith is an essential ingredient in public life, and the affirmation and support which comes from a faith community, offers sacred sustenance.

Some sport has been made of Senator Ashcroft's particular religious practices, and I apologize to him on behalf of the cynics in our society who do not understand the power of faith in his life. At the same time, I caution against the rhetoric of public figures who blur the line between politics and religion by making Senator Ashcroft's nomination a holy crusade.

At the same time, I want to offer some measure of endorsement of the remarks Senator Ashcroft made at Bob Jones University. Maybe you find it strange coming from a believing and practicing Jew. A number of times he repeated the assertion "We have no king but Jesus," declaring it fundamental to the founding of America. And I agree with most of that statement, though if I am not mistaken, fundamental to the founding of America was not that we have no king but Jesus, but that we have no king at all - our presidents, our senators, our attorney generals swear allegiance to the Constitution when they take the oath of office.

Because the covenant of America is a covenant of law, of the promise to every individual that neither personal faith nor the lack thereof will disenfranchise him or her from equal protection under the law. The Attorney General is our nation's chief law enforcement officer, and before any individual is entrusted with that responsibility, the United States Senate must be convinced that he or she will use the law itself as the standard of conduct, and only the law itself.

Some people have accused those of us who raise these questions of practicing the politics of personal destruction. Nonsense. We are concerned not with personal destruction, but with public protection, which is the mission of the Justice Department. And any individual who cannot place public protection ahead of personal conviction is simply not qualified to hold the position of Attorney General.

I join in urging our senators to question Senator Ashcroft and any other nominee on this subject with intensity and integrity.

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