Ad Says Roberts Supports Anti-Abortion Violence

ByABC News
August 10, 2005, 8:04 PM

Aug. 10, 2005 — -- This week the National Abortion Rights Action League launched a television advertisement against Supreme Court nominee John Roberts that paints him as complicit in violent, anti-abortion crimes.

"I'm reluctant to criticize any organization that has done and continues to do as much for the important protection of women's reproductive rights as NARAL does," Walter Dellinger III, former solicitor general for President Clinton, told ABC News. "But I think this ad is unfair."

The advertisement is based on a 1991 "friend of the court" brief Roberts filed as deputy solicitor general in the administration of George H.W. Bush. In the U.S. Supreme Court case Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, anti-abortion protesters challenged whether an 1871 law that attempted to protect blacks from the Ku Klux Klan could be used against them. Their ranks included several militant anti-abortion activists, including Michael Bray, who in 1985 was convicted of conspiracy and possessing unregistered explosive devices related to 10 abortion clinic bombings.

The U.S. government sided with the anti-abortion protesters. "I think it's important to clarify what it is that we did and what we did not do," Roberts told PBS in August 1991. "What we did not do is take a position supporting the activities of the Operation Rescue protesters."

Roberts went on to explain that "the law under which the abortion clinic providers and patients were suing the demonstrators did not apply in this case and did not give the federal court jurisdiction. The law is called The Klu Klux Klan Act of 1987 and that conveys a pretty good idea about what the law was intended to do. It was directed against people going out trying to interfere with the constitutional rights of blacks."

But in this case, the law was not relevant because opposing abortions is not the same as discriminating against women as a class of Americans, Roberts said.