While most prominent conservative Christians are supporting John Roberts' Supreme Court nomination, opposition groups are beginning to emerge, with the main issue at stake being abortion.
The swirl of activity surrounding the Supreme Court nomination of John Roberts is becoming more polarized as individuals and groups groups begin to assert their opinions regarding the upcoming senatorial confirmation hearings for the man who could be making decisions in the nation's highest court for decades.
The latest statements opposing the nomination by a traditionally liberal senator, an activist pro-choice group, and a little known conservative group may signal the direction of future debates.
While stating that she had not yet made up her mind about Roberts, yesterday, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California stated that she would vote against Roberts if she remained convinced that he did not support abortion rights. She said that "Judge Roberts cannot duck this issue."
"I need to know exactly where he stands and I need to know whether he would fight to protect the rights and freedoms of the American people," added Boxer, according to the Associated Press. "If I don't believe he will, I won't vote for him."
She also indicated that filibustering his nomination would be an option. In April, evangelicals took to the national stage in a national broadcast called Justice Sunday decrying the practice of filibustering to block nominees, saying that each one deserved a chance to get an up or down vote in the senate.
Also, a recent ad by NARAL, a group supporting abortion has been released claiming that Judge roberts "filed court briefs supporting violent fringe groups and a convicted clinic bomber." Supporters of Roberts' nomination have called the ad fake.
NARAL was referring to a 1992 case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court and focused on a whether a 19th century anti-discrimination law could be used to stop abortion protests. The party involved was pro-life group Operation Rescue. Roberts, who was then working as a deputy in the solicitor general's office filed a "friend of the court" brief saying that the protests had nothing to do with gender discrimination. The court ruled in agreement with Roberts by a vote of 6-3.
NARAL President Nancy Keenan acknowledged that Roberts would not condone murder, despite the strongly worded ad.
"I know he said he finds bombing and murder abhorrent," she said. However she said that the ruling had allowed groups to continue with violent protests.
On his radio program, Jay Sekulow, the head counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice blasted the ad. Sekulow, who worked on the case, says that NARAL crossed the line by producing an an ad that was not based on facts and distorted the truth.
The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, which calls itself a nonpartisan, nonprofit "consumer advocate" group called the ad false. It said that the ad showed "misleading" images of a clinic bombing that happened seven years after Roberts signed the legal brief in question.
In addition, a little known conservative group also came out in opposition to Roberts' nomination this week. The president of Public Advocate of the United States, Eugene Delgaudio held a press conference in front of the Supreme Court yesterday stating that recent revelations by the L.A. Times that Roberts had provided assistance to a lawyer supporting gay rights in the 1996 Romer vs. Evans Supreme Court case "would criminalize Christianity."
"How can you assist the forces that we consider anti-morality and still claim to be on the side of God?"
Most prominent conservative Christians have shown their support for Roberts, saying that his involvement does not necessarily reflect his views. The Washington Post reports that Delgaudio acknowledged that he was isolated among conservatives but insisted there were more like him.
"I may be alone here today but I speak for many. I believe that. I know that. I've talked to others," said Delgaudio, who attends services at St. Catherine of Siena Church, a Roman Catholic church in Great Falls, Virginia, according to his website.
Delgaudio also states on the site that Public Advocate, based in Virginia, has more than 100,000 supporters who pay yearly dues.
He said that he had initially planned but canceled a pro-Roberts mailing, "which was projected to mail over a million pieces."