Bush joins the mob

August 07, 1991

For the first time in the history of the country, the United States government has officially come down on the side of a mob determined to prevent American citizens from exercising constitutional rights.

That is the only conclusion one can draw from the action of the Department of Justice late yesterday in seeking to evade a federal judge's order in Wichita, Kan., enjoining anti-abortion groups from forcibly shutting down abortion clinics which are operating fully within the law.

Make no mistake, the issue here is not abortion, nor is it the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights of free speech or peaceable assembly. It is about whether organized mobs can prevent citizens from engaging in a legal activity. And whatever one may think about the practice of abortion, there is not the slightest question that, at least as long as Roe vs. Wade is the law of the land, it is a constitutionally protected right.

The anti-abortion protesters in Wichita or anywhere else have every right to assemble in whatever numbers they wish and to make whatever speeches they choose. They most emphatically do not have the right to trespass on private property or to forcibly deny the free movement of citizens exercising their constitutional rights. The anti-abortion protesters have no more lawful right to block access to a medical clinic than any other protesters have a right to block access to churches, private homes, government buildings, even the White House. Would the Justice Department maintain that anti-war protesters had a "right" to physically block entrance to the White House during the Persian Gulf war?

In 1957 in Little Rock, Ark., President Dwight Eisenhower sent federal troops to prevent mobs from blocking the entry of black children whose admission to a public school had been lawfully ordered by a federal court. Yesterday, President Bush took precisely the opposite action: Through his Justice Department, he came down on the side of the mob in attempting to thwart a lawful federal court order.

Presidents cannot pick and choose which laws they will enforce and which they will not. To do so is a complete abdication of the president's fundamental role to enforce law and order. The alternative is for competing groups to clash in the streets -- and let the blood flow.

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