NARAL became the target of their ad, instead of the work that John Roberts did in support of people/groups that condoned and perpetrated violence against women trying to access reproductive health care, during Bush I's time. What was and is ALWAYS the most important fact about Roberts, is that the government CHOSE to get involved, and Roberts CHOSE to argue against women's rights and forviolent offenders.
I do know that during this era, Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic was wending its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where John Roberts, the most recent nominee for that esteemed and critically important body, would argue on behalf of his client, President George H. W. Bush's Department of Justice. He argued against the rights of women to access reproductive health care -- and thus on behalf of anti-abortion protesters, including Operation Rescue and Michael Bray, who was previously convicted for involvement in a string of 10 clinic bombings.
My colleagues and I often discussed the fact that we were civil libertarians who supported free speech rights to picket peacefully. But we knew in our hearts and guts that the gathering storm of anti-choice assaults was not free speech -- it was hate speech at best and domestic terrorism at worst.
From 1977 to 2000, there were 675 blockades, 365 invasions, 322 death threats, 502 bomb threats, 112 assaults and batteries, 40 bombings, 16 attempted murders and 8 murders in the name of "life.” I personally was stalked, picketed at home and subjected to death threats, in addition to enduring bomb and arson attempts, vandalism, and an invasion at the health centers for which I was responsible.
The year Bray was decided, 1991, was smack in the middle of this period years. It was a pivotal time, before any murders had occurred. It was a moment of opportunity when the violence and harassment could have de-escalated if law enforcement at all levels had joined together and taken strong stands against it.
One of the things I learned during this time was that local law enforcement takes many cues from the Justice Department, and further, that the Justice Department has a unique capacity to bring law enforcement at all levels together, to enhance the effectiveness of local law enforcement when it is overwhelmed by massive actions like OR. They can proactively set a pattern of enforcing the law and keeping the peace.
Instead, the Bush I justice department -- with Ken Starr as its chief litigator and John Roberts as his top deputy, strategist and chief arguer -- did no such thing. Indeed, they chose to do just the opposite.
They chose to file an amicus brief when they could have remained silent in the case or to file on behalf of the clinic. The Solicitor General has broad discretion regarding whether to intervene in any case.
They chose to side with an organization with a history of violence and lawbreaking and a convicted bomber, when they could have sided with the reproductive health clinics who were abiding by the law and are equally convinced of the righteousness of their cause and entitled to freedom of speech.
They chose to make the argument that regardless of whether gender discrimination was covered by the Ku Klux Klan Act at issue, clinic blockades were not gender discrimination. The brief further says that, even if the act was "broad enough to reach gender-based animus, the actions taken by the petitioners are not a form of gender-based discrimination."
Though Roberts says he was merely arguing on behalf of the administration's position, in the end that is an inexcusable reason. He appeared twice before the Court to argue Bray, and appeared in the media to speak for his case. And though the case was decided 6-3 in favor of the protestors on a technicality concerning the law's applicability to this case, quotes from dissenting justices, including Sandra Day O'Connor, whose seat Roberts wants to fill, are telling.
This is an issue that will not go away, and many, many progressive women and men will not stand to have their reproductive rights used as "cannon fodder", given away by other "dem" men as a bargining chip.
The fact of the matter is, whether you like it or not, Roberts work against women's rights and in support of violent offenders did happen. It is a part of his history, and no one, not even Karl Rove, can wipe that away.
The NARAL ad was visceral, it was meant to be, in my opinion. It was meant to wake people up to some of the violence that could have been stopped by the man nominated to sit on the bench for the rest of his life, making precedent. Instead, Roberts, through the DOJ, chose to fight hard against that. That should have been a wake up call to many men and women that are currently willing to hand over women's reporductive rights as some sort of bargining chip.
Nutshell version, that ad was the statement to both the right, particularly the extremist right, AS WELL AS the dems handing over women's rights as if they were a piece of fruit on a platter, that we will not stand for this any longer, and we will not stand for an ideologue on the highest judicial bench.