He Wasn't Defending Bombers—He Was Defending Trespassers

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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get the impression from the Times that Roberts defended these illegal tactics, which was NARAL's implication in its now-withdrawn anti-Roberts ad (which also mendaciously linked Roberts to clinic bombings).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.

NEXT: Stevens: The Constitution Made Me Do It

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  1. Dammit. Between this backpeddling and Pat Robertson’s, the speed of the earth will be affected.

    Let’s just cram these twaddlenocks into a room and beam said room into a wall. dammit.

    let the tardoff begin (thanks to whomever coined that).

    cheers,
    drf

  2. I’ll tell you what, I’ve spent that last three years being called “pro-terrorist” and “pro-Saddam” by lardass chickenhawks who used exactly the same logic as NARAL. That ad was a disgrace.

  3. AND, Joe: don’t forget that you have the guts to say that. I do know of at least one torture apologist who is still sticking to the original story.

    cheers,
    drf

  4. joe before I conclude that you’re turning into the Omega Man, can you tell us if those calling you “proterrorist” were commenters on this blog, or elsewhere? A lot of wind goes through here but I don’t remember anything like that.

  5. Doug,

    Though usually phrased in a slightly more refined manner, that charge has been made on this board.

  6. I think joe’s a knucklehead, but he’s OUR knucklehead, dagnabbit.

    I don’t think I ever said he was pro-terrorist, and I never meant to imply it either. If I did, chalk it up to my medication.

  7. Jacob, since the Times article doesn’t mention the trespassing or obstruction, why do you think it’s too harsh on Roberts? If anything, it understates the effect of his defense of the Bray folks.

  8. Roberts was “defending the right of abortion opponents to protest outside clinics” in that case. Arguing “simply that the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 did not authorize a federal injunction against the protesters” was a defense of their right to protest. How is the NYT sentence inaccurate? The implications and impressions you draw are nowhere in that NYT piece.

  9. Because he was not arguing for their right to protest, or that their actions were constitutionally protected, but that a single statute did not apply to their case.

  10. And everybody’s missed what seems to actually be wrong with Roberts’ argument.

    Roberts (at least according to Sullum’s article) argued that because the act was a response to the clan, that the persons or class of persons called “women” were not protected by this law.

    OK, Sullum didn’t miss it, but Roberts’ NARAL/Times detractors have.

    If they painted it as ‘Roberts argues that women not protected by anti-discrimination laws’ they’d be pretty close to right. But these bogus ‘Roberts-defends-bad-people-so-he’s-a-bad-person’ screeds are pretty lame.

  11. I think Joe is actually my buddy Chris. They’ve never been seen together.

  12. “But these bogus ‘Roberts-defends-bad-people-so-he’s-a-bad-person’ screeds are pretty lame.”

    This is what I’m talking about, RC. I don’t care to split hairs about “pro-terrorist (or -Baathist)” vs. “defends terrorists” vs. “sympathizes with terrorists” vs. “doesn’t want to stop terrorists.” You, in particular as a matter of fact, have accused me, and may other posters, of being morally debased because we weren’t on board with what the administration wanted to do about terrorism, or Saddam.

    Hell, there’s a post just below in which some idiot calls the press a “Fifth Column” for writing stories that make us look bad for imprisoning journalist and torturing prisoners. I call bullshit on that “dodgy innuendo,” regardless of who it comes from.

  13. This is kind of off-topic a bit but my fruitcake sister was one of those abortion protestors that crossed over to trespass. While observing the process from the sidelines I realized that, at least in Californicate, there is no neutrality with respect to this issue in the system.

    From the videotaped police brutality (saw the tapes heard the bones break with an audible snap), to the lock-ups that went way past the 3 days before charges were filed, to the LA DA’s refusal to plea bargain and insisting on a year in jail for misdemeanor simple trespass (average sentences for simple trespass in Ca are 1-3 days), to judges refusing to allow any testimony as to why the trespass occurred, which effectively prohibits a defense.

    I know, I know, so what, they’re just a bunch a whacky anti-choice zealots. But when the whacky anti-war zealots were back on the street in four hours and were fined fifty bucks or so it makes a person wonder about even handed justice.

    Of course, in all fairness I’ve been wondering about even handed justice most of my adult life and concluded that there ain’t no such animal.

  14. Actually, after being sick from seeing the treatment of protesters from the RNC in NYC a few years back, somehow, I feel better knowing that anti-abortion protesters are *also* treated badly by police. At least we have equal-opportunity police brutality!

  15. DaveInBigD: Roberts did not argue that the KKK Act did not apply to discrimination against women. He argued that protesting abortion was not discrimination against women. Many women were involved in the protest and they were just as harsh in their treatment of men who tried to enter the clinics.

    I haven’t seen any other articles that claim that Roberts argued that the KKK Act didn’t apply to sex discrimination (and I haven’t actually read the brief), but I would be extremely surprised if that argument was given substantial weight in the brief. Even if that argument is in the brief, your characterization of it as “Roberts argues that women not protected by anti-discrimination laws” would still be wrong. He only argued that one specific anti-discrimination law did not apply to women.

    Daze: Arguing that the KKK Act does not apply to abortion protests is not the same as defending the right to trespass on abortion clinics because Roberts always maintained that state laws against trespass could be used. The only issue was whether the protests violated state and federal law or merely violated state law.

  16. Actually, after being sick from seeing the treatment of protesters from the RNC in NYC a few years back, somehow, I feel better knowing that anti-abortion protesters are *also* treated badly by police. At least we have equal-opportunity police brutality!

    Don’t forget that police-brutality will be defended by the politically correct crowd if it is committed by the BATF.

    And if you criticize such police brutality, you’re a terrorist.

  17. If anyone is guilty of calling Joe proterrorist on this forum its me. For the record I do not think he is pro-terrorist. I think he is ill-informed, wrong and nieve.

  18. joe is actually Neve Campbell?

  19. RC,

    Sorry. That wasn’t fair of me.

  20. Your problem, Neve, is that you think you can say anything and get away with it because you’re a hot chick.

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