WASHINGTON – The latest attack on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts (search) has caused quite a stir among supporters who call outrageous an abortion rights group's claims in a television ad that Roberts "excused violence" against abortion providers.
"John Roberts filed court briefs supporting violent fringe groups and a convicted clinic bomber," says the ad by NARAL Pro-Choice America.
The case cited in the ad went up to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992 and focused on whether a 19th century anti-discrimination law could be used to stop abortion protests.
The solicitor general's office, where Roberts worked as a deputy, filed an amicus, or "friend of the court" brief arguing the law did not apply and maintaining that such protests had nothing to do with gender discrimination. The Supreme Court agreed in a 6-3 ruling.
"What they said was regardless of what your position is on abortion or abortion protestors, those who protest about the issue are not engaging in sex discrimination," said former Justice Department official Barbara Comstock.
Representatives of NARAL Pro-Choice America say despite the ad's language, the group does not believe Roberts condones clinic violence.
"I know he said he finds bombing and murder abhorrent," said NARAL president Nancy Keenan.
Roberts made that point clear during his oral argument before the court.
"The United States appears in this case not to defend petitioners' tortious [or improper] conduct, but to defend the proper interpretation of [the statute]," he said.
Keenan argued, however, that the position Roberts took paved the way for continued protests at a dangerous time for abortion clinics.
"The groups he sided with were engaged in horrific, horrific campaigns of violence," she said.
Roberts' advocates have been quick to respond to the ads. The conservative Progress for America unveiled an ad dismissing NARAL's assertions as part of a liberal "witchhunt."
"A far left Democratic group is making a desperate and false attack recklessly distorting Judge Roberts' record," says the ad.
The nonpartisan Annenberg Center at the University of Pennsylvania also concluded on its Web site that "the [NARAL] ad is false."
Roberts spent Tuesday and Wednesday glad-handing on Capitol Hill, where another controversy has begun to unfold. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon met with Roberts Tuesday and then told The New York Times that he asked the nominee about the case of Terri Schiavo (search), the brain-damaged Florida woman whose feeding tube removal sparked a national controversy over the limits of congressional power.
In Wednesday's Times, Wyden said his staff wrote down Roberts' response word for word, which while not addressing Schiavo specifically, indicates how much Roberts values judicial independence.
"His answer was, 'I am concerned with judicial independence. Congress can prescribe standards, but when Congress starts to act like a court and prescribe particular remedies in particular cases, Congress has overstepped its bounds,'" Wyden said quoting Roberts.
The White House and sources who attended the meeting told FOX News that the report is inaccurate.
They say Roberts did not offer his own view on congressional over-reaching, and Wyden's transcription clearly omitted the words, "I am aware of court precedents which say," that preceded his comments on Congress prescribing standards.
The sources also maintain that Roberts declined to comment on the Schiavo case, saying, "I haven't studied the [Schiavo] case. I wouldn't want to opine on it."
The White House has demanded a correction by the Times. The paper's Washington bureau chief told FOX News that it will stand by its story.
Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Megyn Kendall.