NARAL breaks out the big guns...

News & Politics

A NARAL-sponsored television ad attacking Supreme Court nominee John Roberts has provoked a maelstrom of drama and vitriol from all sides, the New York Times reports today. According to the paper of record:

The spot opens with a scene of devastation, the bombing of an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Ala., in January 1998. Emily Lyons, a clinic employee who was seriously injured in the attack, appears on the screen. "When a bomb ripped through my clinic, I almost lost my life," she says. Mr. Roberts's image then appears, superimposed on a faint copy of the brief he signed in the 1991 case. "Supreme Court nominee John Roberts filed court briefs supporting violent fringe groups and a convicted clinic bomber," the narrator's voice says. The spot concludes by urging viewers to: "Call your senators. Tell them to oppose John Roberts. America can't afford a justice whose ideology leads him to excuse violence against other Americans."
Ouch -- that's gotta sting. Well, according to, a nonpartisan political advertising accuracy group, "the ad is false…[it] uses the classic tactic of guilt by association."

What's being called into question is the ad's reference to an abortion-related law brief, Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, signed by Roberts in 1991 under the first Bush administration. According to The Times, the court was considering "whether a Reconstruction-era civil rights law intended to protect freed slaves from the Ku Klux Klan could provide a basis for federal courts to issue injunctions against the increasingly frequent and violent demonstrations that were intended to block access to abortion clinics."

Roberts was -- unsurprisingly -- against the law, arguing that the Ku Klux Klan law didn't apply to abortion clinic protests. Which apparently makes him a supporter of violent fringe groups, in NARAL's eyes.

The pro-choice megagroup is standing by the ad, although, um, almost everyone else isn't. NARAL'S president, Nancy Keenan, called the ad "tough and accurate."

It's up for debate -- and surely the right's counter-attack ads will be equally, if not more, offensive.

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