He Wasn't Defending Bombers—He Was Defending Trespassers


In the course of explaining how NARAL Pro-Choice America mischaracterized John Roberts' participation in Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, the 1993 Supreme Court decision involving abortion protesters, The New York Times mischaracterizes his involvement in a slightly different way. It says the Supreme Court nominee, at the time a deputy solicitor general in the first Bush administration, was "defending the right of abortion opponents to protest outside clinics." There's nothing wrong with defending the First Amendment rights of abortion protesters, but in this case they went beyond protest to trespassing and physical obstruction, which were plainly prohibited by state law. Anyone who remembers the abortion clinic blockades of that period could easily get the impression from the Times that Roberts defended these illegal tactics, which was NARAL's implication in its now-withdrawn anti-Roberts ad (which also mendaciously linked Roberts to clinic bombings). In fact, the administration's argument was simply that the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 did not authorize a federal injunction against the protesters. I'd suggest a correction, but that would only give the Times an opportunity to get it wrong again.