- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 10, 2005

‘We’re not suggesting that [Supreme Court nominee John Roberts] condones clinic violence,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan recently. But that’s exactly what NARAL’s new television ad attacking Judge Roberts does.

Before we get into the falsity of the advertisement itself, consider the closing remarks in the ad: “America can’t afford a Justice whose ideology leads him to excuse violence against women.” Is Mrs. Keenan really parsing the definitions of “excuse” and “condone”? That’s quite a trick since Webster’s unabridged Third New International Dictionary lists “excuse” as the synonym for “condone.”

As for the ad, it focuses on Emily Lyons, who was injured when Eric Rudolph bombed an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Ala., in 1998. Says Mrs. Lyons, “When a bomb ripped through my clinic, I almost lost my life.” The announcer then says, “Supreme Court nominee John Roberts filed court briefs supporting violent fringe groups and a convicted clinic bomber.”

The “court briefs” in question is an amicus brief Judge Roberts helped draft in 1991 — seven years before the Birmingham bombing — on behalf of the Justice Department in the case Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic. The case was a civil lawsuit brought by abortion clinics against protesters who were blockading the clinics. The abortion clinics argued that the protesters were violating an 1871 anti-discrimination law originally used against the Ku Klux Klan. The case had nothing to do with bombings, violence or Rudolph. The defendants, however, were part of the pro-life group Operation Rescue, while Bray refers to the wife of bomber Michael Bray, who was convicted in 1985.

Then-Deputy Solicitor General John Roberts argued before the Supreme Court the position of the United States, which held that the 1871 law couldn’t be used against abortion protesters because they weren’t discriminating against women, but all who tried to enter the clinic. He did not condone or excuse protesters committing acts of violence. The high court agreed 6-3, saying that the protesters were not targeting “womanhood, but the seeking of abortion.”

If NARAL sees something wrong with Judge Roberts’ interpretation of the 1871 law, then it should run an ad saying so. But that’s not what NARAL did. Rather, NARAL deliberately distorted Judge Roberts’ legal opinion — and badly, we might add. In 1986, for instance, as an associate counsel to President Reagan, Judge Roberts wrote that abortion-clinic bombers “should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

NARAL, of course, argues that the above evidence is just “far-right spin.” Yet the analysis of the ad comes from the non-partisan Annenberg Political Fact Check (Factcheck.org), which is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Its conclusion? “The ad is false.”

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