Alan Colmes interviewed Curt Levey of the Committee for Justice yesterday to discuss the organization’s recent ad likening Sonia Sotomayor to William Ayers and claiming that she “led a group that supported violent Puerto Rican terrorists.”
The New York Times explained the background of this yesterday:
Mr. Levey acknowledged that the ad presented a “caricature,” but it defended it as “factually true.” He said it was a reference to a 1990 controversy in New York City surrounding a visit by Nelson Mandela, shortly after the South African leader’s release from nearly three decades in prison under white Apartheid rule.
As he prepared for Mr. Mandela’s visit, then-New York City Mayor David Dinkins made headlines when he spoke critically of Puerto Rican separatists who, in 1954, had stormed the United States House of Representatives and opened fire, wounding five Congressmen.
Three of those men, who were later pardoned by President Jimmy Carter, were scheduled to appear alongside Mr. Mandela at a rally in Harlem. But Mr. Dinkins called them “assassins” and said they should not be conflated with Mr. Mandela’s cause.
In response, the then-president of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, Ruben Franco, said Mr. Dinkins’ comments lacked sensitivity and a sense of history, according to a June 16, 1990, New York Times article about the incident.
“He doesn’t recognize that to many people in Puerto Rico, these are fighters for freedom and justice, for liberation, just as is Nelson Mandela, who himself advocated bearing arms,” Mr. Franco was quoted as saying.
Mr. Levey argued that it was accurate to accuse Judge Sonia Sotomayor of “supporting violent terrorists” because she was a member of the board of the legal defense fund at the time that Mr. Franco made that remark.
The discussion between Colmes and Levey hinged largely on Levey’s assertion that Sotomayor “led” this group when she was serving on the board, insisting that her position made her a “leader” and therefore she was personally responsible for every statement or position that the organization made or took.
Levey insisted that the ad was merely an effort to stimulate “debate”and admitted that he doesn’t actually believe that Sotomayor supports violent terrorists, claiming that “the point of this ad is not to say that her membership on the board of PRLDEF in and of itself disqualifies her” … which is a rather remarkable claim to make considering that that is exactly the point of the ad:
Remember Barack Obama’s buddy Bill Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist who bombed American buildings in the 70’s? Turns out President Obama’s done it again – picked someone for the Supreme Court – Judge Sonia Sotomayor – who led a group supporting violent Puerto Rican terrorists. Is this radical judge the type of person America needs sitting on our highest court? What was he thinking? What was she thinking? Call your senators. Tell them to stop Sonia Sotomayor. Paid for by the Committee for Justice.
The ad says that people need to call their senators and “tell them to stop Sonia Sotomayor” and that the reason she needs to be stopped is because she “led a group supporting violent Puerto Rican terrorists.” Her membership on PRLDEF’s board is the sole reason given in the ad for saying she is disqualified to serve on the Supreme Court.
Nice try, Levey.
One final question I have to ask is: how do you suppose the Committee for Justice’s board members would respond if we started claiming they were “leaders” of an organization that compared Sonia Sotomayor to terrorists?
I’m guessing that they would dispute the assertion that they personally had anything at all to do with Levey’s statements or the organization’s ad.