A Dumb NARAL Ad Attacking Roberts

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Ralph
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A Dumb NARAL Ad Attacking Roberts

Post by Ralph » Wed Aug 10, 2005 8:37 pm

I give NARAL regular contributions and will continue to do so but THIS ad is wrong in every way.

*****

From The New York Times:

August 11, 2005
Ad Attacking Supreme Court Nominee Provokes Furor
By LINDA GREENHOUSE

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 - An advertisement that a leading abortion-rights organization began running on national television on Wednesday, opposing the Supreme Court nomination of John G. Roberts Jr. as one "whose ideology leads him to excuse violence against other Americans," quickly became the first flashpoint in the three-week-old confirmation process.

Several prominent abortion rights supporters as well as a neutral media watchdog group said the advertisement was misleading and unfair, and a conservative group quickly took to the airwaves with an opposing advertisement.

The focus of the 30-second spot, which Naral Pro-Choice America is spending $500,000 to place on the Fox and CNN cable networks, as well as on broadcast stations in Maine and Rhode Island over the next two weeks, is on an argument in an abortion-related case that Judge Roberts made to the Supreme Court in the early 1990's, when he was working in the first Bush administration as the principal deputy solicitor general.

The question before the court was 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.

The court heard arguments in the case, Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, in October 1991 and then again the next October before finally ruling in January 1993, by a vote of 6 to 3, that the law did not apply. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whom Mr. Roberts has been nominated to succeed, voted in dissent. The decision prompted Congressional passage of a new federal law to protect the clinics.

Mr. Roberts participated in both arguments, presenting the administration's view that the law in question, the Ku Klux Klan Act, did not apply to the clinic protests. In earlier cases, the Supreme Court had parsed the law, which prohibits conspiracies to deprive "any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws," as requiring proof that a conspiracy was motivated by a "class-based, invidiously discriminatory animus."

In this case, two lower federal courts had found that the clinic protests met that test because they were a form of discrimination against women. But Mr. Roberts argued that the demonstrators were not singling out women for discriminatory treatment but rather were trying to "prohibit the practice of abortion altogether." He told the court that even though only women could become pregnant or seek abortions, it was "wrong as a matter of law and logic" to regard opposition to abortion as the equivalent of discrimination against women.

The administration's position initially attracted relatively little attention when it entered the case in the spring of 1991. But after a summer of violent protests at clinics in Wichita, Kan., during which Mr. Roberts and other administration lawyers opposed the authority of a federal judge there to issue an injunction, the situation had become politically sensitive. Mr. Roberts began his second argument by saying the administration was not trying to defend the demonstrators' conduct but rather to "defend the proper interpretation" of the statute.

That distinction is blurred in Naral's advertisement, prepared by Struble Eichenbaum Communications, a Democratic media company here. 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."

According to Factcheck.org, a nonpartisan project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania that monitors political advertisements and speeches for accuracy, "the ad is false" and "uses the classic tactic of guilt by association." The imagery is "especially misleading" in linking the 1998 clinic bombing to the brief Mr. Roberts signed seven years earlier, Factcheck said in an analysis it posted on its Web site, www.factcheck.org, under the heading: "Naral Falsely Accuses Supreme Court Nominee Roberts."

As the Factcheck critique began to be trumpeted by conservative groups early Wednesday, Naral prepared a rebuttal of what it called "glaring errors" in the organization's analysis. Michael Bray, a defendant in the case, had been convicted several years earlier for his role in bombing abortion clinics, Naral said, adding that since the Bush administration and Mr. Bray were on the same side of the Supreme Court case, "John Roberts did, therefore, side with a convicted clinic bomber" as well as with Operation Rescue, "a violent fringe group."

Naral's president, Nancy Keenan, defended the advertisement during an interview in her office here.

"It's tough and it's accurate," Ms. Keenan said.

"It has done exactly what we expected it to do," she added, namely to provide a "wake-up call" about the stakes for reproductive freedom at issue in the current Supreme Court vacancy.

"Conventional wisdom says the Roberts nomination is a done deal, so it behooves us to make sure the American public knows who John Roberts really is," she said.

Ms. Keenan, a former Montana state legislator who has headed the organization for the past year, said it was important to note that because the federal government was not a party in the Bray case, the administration's participation in the Supreme Court appeal was voluntary.

"They chose what side to take," she said. "That tells us something."

Within the larger liberal coalition of which Naral is a part, there was considerable uneasiness about the advertisement, although leaders of other groups generally refused to speak on the record. One who did, Frances Kissling, the longtime president of Catholics for a Free Choice, said she was "deeply upset and offended" by the advertisement, which she called "far too intemperate and far too personal."

Ms. Kissling, who initiated the conversation with a reporter, said the ad "does step over the line into the kind of personal character attack we shouldn't be engaging in."

She added: "As a pro-choice person, I don't like being placed on the defensive by my leaders. Naral should pull it and move on."

Walter Dellinger, a former acting solicitor general in the Clinton administration and longtime Naral supporter, sent a letter on Wednesday to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and its ranking Democrat, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, respectively. Mr. Dellinger said he had disagreed with Mr. Roberts's argument in the Bray case but considered it unfair to give "the impression that Roberts is somehow associated with clinic bombers." He added that "it would be regrettable if the only refutation of these assertions about Roberts came from groups opposed to abortion rights."

A conservative group, Progress for America, said it would spend $300,000 to run ads, beginning Thursday, on the same stations on which the Naral ad is appearing. "How low can these frustrated liberals sink?" its advertisement asks.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Aug 11, 2005 1:08 am

So did you write to the pro-abortion thought police gestapo to tell 'em they discredit themselves and their cause when they poison the waters with such self-serving and blatantly duplicitous distortions?
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Post by jbuck919 » Thu Aug 11, 2005 5:04 am

Corlyss_D wrote:So did you write to the pro-abortion thought police gestapo to tell 'em they discredit themselves and their cause when they poison the waters with such self-serving and blatantly duplicitous distortions?
The problem is that it's not at all self-serving. It's more like other-serving.

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Post by Ralph » Thu Aug 11, 2005 8:38 am

Corlyss_D wrote:So did you write to the pro-abortion thought police gestapo to tell 'em they discredit themselves and their cause when they poison the waters with such self-serving and blatantly duplicitous distortions?
*****

I wrote to NARAL expressing my view as a supporter of abortion rights and as a regular contributor. I don't describe those I disagree with, even when they act stupidly, in the silly language you use above. Save the word "Gestapo" for true evildoers on a level with Hitler's feared agents.

And far more important than writing to NARAL, I posted my views HERE where millions will be informed.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:23 pm

Ralph wrote:I wrote to NARAL expressing my view as a supporter of abortion rights and as a regular contributor. I don't describe those I disagree with, even when they act stupidly, in the silly language you use above. Save the word "Gestapo" for true evildoers on a level with Hitler's feared agents.

And far more important than writing to NARAL, I posted my views HERE where millions will be informed.
What have you got against "they discredit themselves and their cause when they poison the waters with such self-serving and blatantly duplicitous distortions?" That's the important text, not what I called 'em. Even Factcheck.org has gotten on their case.
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Post by Ralph » Thu Aug 11, 2005 1:17 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Ralph wrote:I wrote to NARAL expressing my view as a supporter of abortion rights and as a regular contributor. I don't describe those I disagree with, even when they act stupidly, in the silly language you use above. Save the word "Gestapo" for true evildoers on a level with Hitler's feared agents.

And far more important than writing to NARAL, I posted my views HERE where millions will be informed.
What have you got against "they discredit themselves and their cause when they poison the waters with such self-serving and blatantly duplicitous distortions?" That's the important text, not what I called 'em. Even Factcheck.org has gotten on their case.
*****

It's a little over the top for me but I can see where there's a basis for such depiction. Never for using the word "Gestapo" as you did.
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Post by Ralph » Thu Aug 11, 2005 3:27 pm

Specter calls for pulling anti-Roberts ad
8/11/2005, 4:58 p.m. ET
By JESSE J. HOLLAND
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — An abortion-rights group should withdraw a "blatantly untrue and unfair" ad opposing Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, says Sen. Arlen Specter, himself an abortion-rights supporter as well as leader of the panel that will consider the nomination.

Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will question Roberts next month, spoke out Thursday against the ad running in Maine and Rhode Island targeting President Bush's nominee.

The ad by NARAL Pro-Choice America criticizes Roberts and links him with violent anti-abortion protesters because of the anti-abortion briefs he worked on as a government lawyer. Specter called that "blatantly untrue and unfair."

"The NARAL advertisement is not helpful to the pro-choice cause which I support," the Pennsylvania Republican said in a letter to NARAL President Nancy Keenan.

There was no immediate reaction from NARAL.

The ad has been airing on broadcast television in Maine and Rhode Island and on CNN.

Conservatives and Roberts supporters have been calling all week for NARAL to pull the ad.

"This ad grossly distorts the record of John Roberts from start to finish," said former Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "It has only one goal: to associate John Roberts with violent extremists."

Senate Democrats have not taken a position on the ad. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the Judiciary Committee's top Democrat, told The Associated Press that ads for and against Roberts won't sway senators weighing the confirmation.

"There has been much furor over these ad campaigns, but I believe that television advertisements are not the point, and should not be the focus of debate or discussion," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday. But Schumer said he would ask Roberts about the constitutionality of abortion clinic protesting at his confirmation hearing.

In 1991, Roberts helped write — on behalf of the government — a Supreme Court brief in Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic. In that case, the court limited the federal help available to abortion clinic owners who seek to stop blockades by protesters.

Meanwhile, in documents released Thursday, Roberts — then special assistant to Attorney General William French Smith — advised then-high court nominee Sandra Day O'Connor in 1981 to stand firm in her insistence not to discuss specific court cases, saying it could bring up impropriety and possibly disqualification issues later.

A university professor's memo argued that senators can only determine a nominee's views through asking specific questions about specific cases. In the memo, the professor wrote that answering those questions would not put a justice in danger of having to be disqualified from hearing future cases on that subject if it was made clear the nominee was not promising to vote one way or the other.

That theory should be rejected, Roberts said.

"The suggestion that a simple understanding that no promise is intended when a nominee answers a specific question will completely remove the disqualification question is absurd," Roberts wrote to O'Connor in a Sept. 9 letter. "The appearance of impropriety still remains."

Following the advice she heard, O'Connor refused to talk to senators about specific cases and was confirmed by the Senate.

Roberts has been nominated by President Bush to replace O'Connor on the Supreme Court this fall.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Aug 11, 2005 4:11 pm

The unearned media this ad has garnered has been worth its weight in gold. Scarcely an hour goes by that some media outlet doesn't air it.
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Post by Ralph » Thu Aug 11, 2005 5:14 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:The unearned media this ad has garnered has been worth its weight in gold. Scarcely an hour goes by that some media outlet doesn't air it.
*****

Unfortunately, that's correct.
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Post by Ralph » Thu Aug 11, 2005 9:29 pm

Jon Stewart on tonight's The Daily Show did a great job blasting the NARAL ad. It repeats on Friday on The Comedy Channel and shouldn't be missed.
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Post by Ralph » Thu Aug 11, 2005 9:37 pm

Abortion rights group withdraws Roberts ad
8/11/2005, 9:29 p.m. ET
By JESSE J. HOLLAND
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — After a week of protests by conservatives, an abortion rights group said Thursday night it is withdrawing a television advertisement linking Supreme Court nominee John Roberts to violent anti-abortion activists.

"We regret that many people have misconstrued our recent advertisement about Mr. Roberts' record," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

"Unfortunately, the debate over that advertisement has become a distraction from the serious discussion we hoped to have with the American public," she said in a letter Thursday to Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who had urged the group to withdraw the ad.

Specter, himself an abortion-rights supporter as well as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will question Roberts next month, earlier Thursday had called the ad "blatantly untrue and unfair."

The NARAL ad criticizes Roberts and links him with violent anti-abortion protesters because of the anti-abortion briefs he worked on as a government lawyer.

"The NARAL advertisement is not helpful to the pro-choice cause which I support," Specter said in a letter to Keenan.

Keenan's response said the group will replace the ad with one that "examines Mr. Roberts' record on several points, including his advocacy for overturning Roe v. Wade, his statement questioning the right to privacy and his arguments against using a federal civil rights law to protect women and their doctors and nurses from those who use blockades and intimidation."

The original ad has been airing on broadcast television in Maine and Rhode Island and on CNN.

At least one television station had already refused to run the ad. Mike Young, vice president and general manager of WABI in Bangor, said his station ran the ad before deciding to pull it Thursday after receiving a challenge from the Republican National Committee.

"After careful thoughtful analysis, we determined the ad was at worst false, and at best misleading," he said.

Conservatives and Roberts supporters have been calling all week for NARAL to pull the ad.

NARAL had planned a $500,000 campaign to show the ad for two weeks.

"This ad grossly distorts the record of John Roberts from start to finish," said former Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "It has only one goal: to associate John Roberts with violent extremists."

Senate Democrats have not taken a position on the ad. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the Judiciary Committee's top Democrat, told The Associated Press that ads for and against Roberts won't sway senators weighing the confirmation.

"There has been much furor over these ad campaigns, but I believe that television advertisements are not the point, and should not be the focus of debate or discussion," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday. But Schumer said he would ask Roberts about the constitutionality of abortion clinic protesting at his confirmation hearing.

In 1991, Roberts helped write — on behalf of the government — a Supreme Court brief in Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic. In that case, the court limited the federal help available to abortion clinic owners who seek to stop blockades by protesters.

Meanwhile, in documents released by the National Archives Thursday, Roberts advised then-high court nominee Sandra Day O'Connor not to answer certain questions in her confirmation process.

Roberts — then special assistant to Attorney General William French Smith and assigned to help O'Connor through her confirmation process — wrote O'Connor in 1981 to rebut a university professor's memo. The memo argued that senators can only determine a nominee's views through asking specific questions about specific cases.

In the memo, the professor wrote that answering those questions would not put a justice in danger of having to be disqualified from hearing future cases on that subject if it was made clear the nominee was not promising to vote one way or the other. Roberts rejected the theory saying it could bring up impropriety and possibly disqualification issues later.

O'Connor later refused to talk to senators about specific cases and was confirmed by the Senate.

Roberts has been nominated by President Bush to replace O'Connor on the Supreme Court this fall.
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