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Pro-life advocates were confident leaving the U.S. Supreme Court last week after hearing arguments in the Buffalo abortion protest case, the Rev. Robert L. Schenck said Sunday night.

"We felt the justices were with us," he said. "We were very confident leaving the courtroom."

Mr. Schenck spoke Sunday evening in New Covenant Tabernacle, the Town of Tonawanda church founded by his brother, the Rev. Paul C. Schenck.

The case argued in the Supreme Court last Wednesday, Paul Schenck vs. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York, pitted access to abortion clinics against the constitutional right to free speech.

The positive moment in the arguments for Mr. Schenck was when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the court's most liberal members, questioned where the access begins and ends under U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara's ruling.

"We knew at that moment we are likely to see a great victory," Mr. Schenck told the congregation.

He also praised Justice Antonin Scalia, "our angel on the court," for keeping the arguments focused.

The Supreme Court decision won't be announced for several months.

The morning of the arguments, Mr. Schenck said he also had an encounter with retired Justice Harry A. Blackmun, who wrote the 1973 landmark Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Several weeks earlier Mr. Schenck hand-delivered a letter and videotape to Blackmun's house concerning Norma McCorv
ey, who filed the suit as Jane Roe. Ms. McCorvey, who later worked for an abortion clinic, now is a born-again Christian and pro-life activist.

Mr. Schenck said he was eating breakfast in the Supreme Court building and happened to be seated just behind Blackmun. He walked over to the retired justice, introduced himself, and asked if he had gotten the McCorvey tape.

"Oh yes, about that woman? I'm well-acquainted with that story," Schenck said Blackmun told him.

At that point, Supreme Court security told Mr. Schenck he would have to leave, and he said he told Blackmun: "I hope you will take this remarkable story under advisement."

Mr. Schenck is general secretary for the Washington-based National Clergy Council, and told the congregation of his activities in Washington, D.C., which he called "the strangest mission field on planet earth."

His goals when he left Buffalo two years ago were to start a church and to get information on Washington back to local communities, he said. Mr. Schenck has since formed the National Community Church on Capitol Hill and circulates a newsletter, "Rob Schenck's Family Circle Letter."

The third dimension of his mission in Washington is to be a prophetic minister on Capitol Hill, which has led to a number of face-to-face encounters with the nation's leaders. But he has not forgotten Buffalo.

"This is home," he told the congregation. "This is family and it always feels so good to come back."

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