By Paul Kane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 13, 2009 8:17 PM
The woman at the center of the Supreme Court's landmark abortion rights ruling was arrested today at the confirmation hearing for Sonia Sotomayor among a wave of anti-abortion protesters who lined the sidewalks outside the Senate office buildings and several of whom made it into the hearing room and disrupted in an attempt to disrupt the proceedings.
Norma McCorvey, 61, of Texas, better known as "Jane Roe" in the famous Roe v. Wade case from January 1973, was arrested after she and another protester started yelling during the opening statement of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), according to Capitol Police. McCorvey, whose pursuit of the right to access to abortion in the early 1970s led to the ruling that has been a pivotal part of every Supreme Court nomination process since, eventually become a notable opponent of the procedure.
Sgt. Kimberly Schneider of the Capitol Police said McCorvey and Francis Mahoney, 68, of Florida were charged with unlawful conduct for disrupting Congress, the third and fourth such arrests the police made during the more than five-hour proceedings. McCorvey was part of the group of protesters outside the Hart Senate Office Building throughout the day, a gathering led by Randall Terry, the former head of Operation Rescue, an organization dedicated to ending abortion.
McCorvey, who used Roe as an alias in her court filings for fear of retribution, remained an abortion-rights supporter until the mid-1990s. Working at a women's clinic in Dallas, she befriended some Operation Rescue protesters. In 1995, she was baptized and has been an anti-abortion activist ever since.
The last two rows of the hearing room were reserved today for about 50 members of the public, who rotated into the hearings for short intervals and then were escorted out to allow others to view the proceedings. McCorvey and Mahoney were part of a group headed out as Franken was praising the service of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), a staunch supporter of the Roe decision. Kennedy left the Judiciary Committee earlier this year, making this the first Supreme Court confirmation fight without his presence since 1965.
When McCorvey and Mahoney started shouting, they were quickly removed from the room. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), Judiciary Committee chairman, banged the gavel on the crowd for the third time today.
"Officers, please remove whoever is causing the disturbance," Leahy said. "Again, as Senator Sessions and I have said, this is a meeting of the United States Senate. We'll show respect to everybody who is here, we will show respect to everybody, including to Judge Sotomayor, to the Senators on both sides of the aisle, and we will have order in this room."