The Dread Jurist Roberts II

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. In my July 25 posting, I said that the Sexual Left would try to paint John Roberts, President Bush’s nominee to the Supreme Court, as the “dread jurist Roberts.”

As if on cue, NARAL Pro-Choice America created a 30-second television spot claiming Roberts supported abortion-clinic bombers while arguing a case as a government lawyer in 1991. The advertisement, complete with pictures of a mangled clinic and the emotional words and image of a victim, accuses him of “supporting . . . a convicted clinic bomber.” It brands Roberts as someone “whose ideology leads him to excuse violence against other Americans.”

Like much of the information produced by NARAL (see my July 18 posting, “Keeping Sex ‘Real’”), the ad is a lie. That’s not just my opinion. The nonpartisan notes that “the ad is false,” the images “misleading.”, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, says the NARAL ad “uses the classic tactic of guilt by association.”

To review, in 1991 Roberts argued for the first Bush administration that abortion opponents who blockaded clinics could not be prosecuted under the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, saying that blocking access to a clinic was not discrimination against women, thereby not violating their equal protection rights under the Constitution. Indeed, Roberts argued that state law was sufficient to prosecute the blockaders. Roberts’s reasoning was so radical that the Supreme Court agreed with him, in a 6-3 vote.

This case, Bray v. Alexandria, actually had nothing to do with attacks on abortion clinics. The bombing the ad refers to occurred in 1998, a full seven years later. Previously, in fact, Roberts had written a memo while working for the Reagan administration in which he had called bombers “criminals” and “misguided individuals.”

Why the smear job? Here’s a guess: NARAL knows it can find nothing substantial against Roberts, so it is making stuff up. NARAL also knows that it can’t simply say it opposes Roberts because he would likely vote against Roe v. Wade.

According to an excellent summary of the ad flap in The New York Times, NARAL’s wild, irresponsible charges (which were accepted for airing by CNN) sparked “considerable uneasiness” among pro-abortion allies. Linda Greenhouse of the Times could find only one pro-choicer willing to defend the ad: Nancy Keenan, NARAL’s president.

Greenhouse did, however, find one willing to criticize it: Frances Kissling of Catholics for a Free Choice. Kissling, who sought out the newspaper to express her views, said the ad “deeply upset and offended” her. Kissling called it “far too intemperate and far too personal.”

Kissling said the ad “step[s] over the line into the kind of personal character attack we shouldn’t be engaging in.”

“As a pro-choice person, I don’t like being placed on the defensive by my leaders,” Kissling said. “NARAL should pull it and move on.”

Facing public ridicule and scorn, late last week NARAL finally announced it was pulling the ad. But expect the Sexual Left to fire other muddy salvos at the “dread jurist Roberts.” After all, their pro-abortion ideology apparently trumps any obligation they might feel to tell the truth.

About Stan Guthrie

Stan Guthrie is an editor at large for Christianity Today magazine and for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. His latest book is God's Story in 66 Verses. He also is author of All that Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us, Missions in the Third Millennium: 21 Key Trends for the 21st Century, and A Concise Guide to Bible Prophecy. He is co-author of The Sacrament of Evangelism. Besides authoring, writing, and editing books, Stan is a literary agent, bringing together good authors, good books, and good publishers. Stan writes the monthly Priorities colum for He has appeared on National Public Radio's €œTell Me More,€ WGN's Milt Rosenberg program, and many Christian shows, including The Eric Metaxas Show and Moody Radio'€™s €œNew Day Florida.€ A licensed minister and an inspirational speaker, he served as moderator for the Christian Book Expo panel discussion, Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference Does It Make?
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