NEW YORK — “Abortion is health care, and health care is a right!” declared state Sen. Tom Duane (D-Manhattan), leading a crowd of hundreds gathered in Union Square here Sept. 15 to denounce Bush’s nomination of Judge John Roberts as chief justice of the Supreme Court.

NOW New York City organized the rally along with the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, NAACP, NARAL Pro-Choice and others. Public demonstrations are necessary because of the danger that Bush, with two open seats on the court, could “extend his right-wing ideology and disregard for individual rights” to the Supreme Court, “guaranteeing second-class status for girls and women in the U.S. for decades,” said a statement from NOW.

The rally was intended to stiffen the resolve of Senate Democrats to oppose Roberts more vigorously, as well as any other ultra-right judge Bush may put forward to fill Sandra Day O’Connor’s now-open seat.

“Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton — Show us that you are indeed our senators,” demanded NYC Councilwoman Margarita Lopez. “You mobilized the whole nation to save the filibuster. For what? Not to use it?”

“Roberts is hostile … to affirmative action, women’s rights, privacy … everything that Americans want,” Hazel Dukes, New York State NAACP president, told the World. “For 40 years we fought for these rights, and we shouldn’t let them be taken away.”

State Sen. Duane, in his speech to the rally, said that it was important to oppose Roberts now, so people wouldn’t have to fight the law to keep abortion clinics open and sit down in front of major universities to demand equal access to sports. Duane also added that Roberts would be extremely dangerous to the rights of the GLBT community.

A high percentage of the rally was students, both college and high school age. Tracey Sabbah, president of NOW at NYU, said the fight is especially important for young people “because this affects us the most.”

“The Supreme Court could have control over our bodies for our entire reproductive lives,” she added.

“Roberts is stupid, and really inconsiderate of everyone’s rights,” said Tasha, a student at LaGuardia High School. “I’m here because I’m passionate about women’s rights.”

Many in the crowd were optimistic that Roberts could be beaten, but said that even if he was not, these kinds of mass mobilizations would lay the groundwork for assuring that O’Connor’s seat would not be filled by an extremist.

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