Sunday, August 14, 2005

NARAL Plays and Drops Anti-Roberts Ad

This past week, NARAL, a pro-abortion advocacy group, began and ended a TV commercial attacking John Roberts, Pres. Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court. Annenberg Political Fact Check, a nonpartisan fact checking project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, describes the ad:

The ad shows images of a bombed clinic before a woman identified as Emily Lyons appears on screen, saying "I nearly lost my life." An announcer says, "Supreme Court nominee John Roberts filed court briefs supporting violent fringe groups and a convicted clinic bomber".The announcer then urges viewers to "call your Senators" and "tell them to oppose John Roberts" because we "can't afford a Justice whose ideology leads him to excuse violence against other Americans."

What does the nonpartisan Annenberg Political Fact Check say about the accuracy of NARAL's ad?

The ad is false.

And the ad misleads when it says Roberts supported a clinic bomber. It is true that Roberts sided with the bomber and many other defendants in a civil case, but the case didn't deal with bombing at all. Roberts argued that abortion clinics who brought the suit had no right use an 1871 federal anti-discrimination statute against anti-abortion protesters who tried to blockade clinics. Eventually a 6-3 majority of the Supreme Court agreed, too. Roberts argued that blockades were already illegal under state law.

The images used in the ad are especially misleading. The pictures are of a clinic bombing that happened nearly seven years after Roberts signed the legal brief in question.

NARAL's ad is blatantly false and misleading in every particular. The ad completely distorts what Roberts argued to the Supreme Court and neglects to mention that a majority of the Supreme Court agreed with his position. Nothing in the ad conveys even an element of truth. As John said at Power Line, "It is not easy to fit so many lies and distortions into a 30-second commercial."

Even worse, NARAL knows the ad distorts Roberts's record. During the press conference to unveil the ad, NARAL President Nancy Keenan said, "I want to be very clear that we are not suggesting that Mr. Roberts condones or supports clinic violence. ..." When pressed further, Keenan responded, "Again, I don't think he does condone clinic violence. We are not saying that."

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter urging NARAL to withdraw the ad. Sen. Specter called the ad "blatantly untrue and unfair".

Walter Dellinger, an acting solicitor general in the Clinton administration and no friend of Republicans, wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee and called NARAL's ad "unfair and unwarranted". Dellinger spoke out to stop a "downward spiral of politics".

In response to the furor, NARAL pulled the ad before the end of the week. NARAL wrote to Sen. Specter, "We ... regret that many people have misconstrued our recent advertisement about Mr. Roberts' record."

No one misconstrued NARAL's ad. NARAL deliberately designed the ad to distort Roberts's record in a partisan political effort to keep a conservative judge off the Supreme Court. The ad was despicable and horrid, and NARAL owes Judge Roberts, the Senate, and the nation an apology.

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