The Justice Department's attempt to get the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion overturned got a slap from more than 200 of its attorneys who criticized the department's position in a petition to Attorney General Dick Thornburgh.

But Thornburgh aide Dave Runkel said Tuesday the petition "won't have an impact on the department's position" which is urging the Supreme Court to reverse the Roe vs. Wade decision of 1973."These people come in six months after the decision was made to appeal this case to the Supreme Court," he said. "It's not timely. If they wanted to have an impact on what the department was doing on this, they're six months too late."

The petition signed by 248 department employees - including only 25-30 non-attorneys, according to one of the signers - was given to Thornburgh's office late Tuesday afternoon.

Runkel said he did not know if the attorney general had seen it but said that he expected no retaliation against those who signed it.

The department has some 5,500 attorneys, including those in U.S. attorneys offices around the country, said department spokeswoman Amy Brown.