Monday, August 8, 2005

NARAL Pro-Choice America yesterday began airing nationwide a TV advertisement criticizing federal Judge John G. Roberts Jr.’s involvement in an abortion case.

The spot, part of a $500,000 campaign, is the first major advertisement that is explicitly critical of President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee, accusing him of aiding an abortion-clinic bomber.

“We believe in a culture of personal freedom and personal responsibility,” said NARAL President Nancy Keenan. “As an advocacy organization, it is our job to let the American people know that John Roberts’ record demonstrates hostility toward these core values.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman called the ad “false and outrageous.”

“Organizations like NARAL that go to these lengths only serve to denigrate the confirmation process and are drastically out of touch with the American people,” he said, accusing NARAL of trying to “slander” Judge Roberts.

The ad stems from a 1993 Supreme Court case, Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic, in which pro-choice advocates argued that blocking access to an abortion clinic denied a class of persons — pregnant women seeking abortions — their federal right to interstate travel.

Judge Roberts, writing a brief on behalf of the first President Bush as deputy solicitor general, argued that such women are not a “class” as defined by federal statute. The Supreme Court agreed.

Ms. Keenan said, “Anti-choice radicals were responsible for at least 48 bombings and arsons in 24 states, along with 57 acid attacks, more than 4,000 disruptive acts such as bomb threats, harassing calls and hate mail.”

Jennifer Braceras, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, said the ad is “deliberately misleading and deceptive.”

“In the brief, Roberts argued that the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 could not technically be applied to abortion protesters,” she said. “To suggest that John Roberts supports abortion-clinic violence on the grounds that he filed a brief explaining the correct technical application of a 19th-century law proves, once again, the willingness of left-wing special-interest groups to mislead the public for their own political ends.”

Also yesterday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, drew applause from Democrats with a letter he wrote to Judge Roberts about the questions he plans to ask him.

“In addition to the commentaries of scholars and others about the Supreme Court’s judicial activism and the court’s usurping congressional authority, members of Congress are irate about the court’s denigrating and, really, disrespectful statements about Congress’ competence,” Mr. Specter wrote.

The example of rudeness Mr. Specter cites is a decision written by conservative Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, applauded the letter, saying: “Arlen Specter sounds exactly like Chuck Schumer, and his letter is just what the doctor ordered.”

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