WASHINGTON – An abortion rights group on Friday launched a new television ad criticizing Supreme Court (search) nominee John Roberts, two weeks after pulling a heavily criticized commercial that linked him to violent anti-abortion activists.
The new ad "paints a really clear and unambiguous picture of John Roberts' (search) record and it keeps the public debate focused on the threats that he poses to our freedom," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
The original ad ran locally in Maine and Rhode Island, and on CNN. Using a woman who was injured in a clinic bombing, it criticized Roberts and linked him with violent anti-abortion protesters because of the briefs he worked on as a government lawyer in 1991.
The ad was pulled the same day that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (search), R-Pa., and an abortion-rights moderate, called it "untrue and unfair" in a letter to NARAL.
"NARAL lost all credibility when it ran an advertisement earlier in the month that will go down in the history of political advertisements as one of the most rancid and dishonest ads ever run," White House spokesman Steve Schmidt said. "Sadly, this ad continues this pattern of distortion."
The new ad, featuring smiling families and an American flag in the background, emphasizes a phrase in a 1981 Roberts memos: the "so-called right to privacy," and points out that he co-wrote a government memo saying the landmark Roe v. Wade (search) decision legalizing abortion was wrongly decided.
"There's just too much at stake to let John Roberts become a decisive vote on the Supreme Court," the ad says.
The new ad will run on CNN and during cable programming in the Washington, D.C. area. NARAL says it is using part of its $500,000 slated for the original buy to pay for the new ad.
The ad comes as groups continue to take side in the Roberts debate.
The Human Rights Campaign, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays announced their opposition to Roberts' nomination on Thursday. That day, the Congress of Racial Equality, the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, Project 21 and the Center for New Black Leadership endorsed the federal judge.
Roberts also will return to Capitol Hill on Monday for his second meeting with top Judiciary Democrat Patrick Leahy (search) of Vermont.