Our country lost a great legal scholar six days before Christmas.
One of the greatest legal minds that we have ever been blessed
with, and yet was blocked from becoming a U.S. Supreme Court
justice in a fear-and-loathing smear campaign waged against
him in the U.S. Senate, a distinguished law professor and a most
able U.S. Court of Appeals judge, Robert Bork passed away
on Wednesday, December 19 at eighty-five.
Judge Bork's defeat in his quest for confirmation to the Supreme
Court in the Senate was by a roll call of 58-42, the most votes
ever against a Supreme Court nominee. This galling defeat came
to be known as "Borking" --- the term was entered into the
Oxford English Dictionary, with the definition being the attempt
to prevent candidates for public office from attaining same by
"systematically defaming or vilifying them." The campaign waged
against Bork's nomination to the highest court in the land focused
more on his ideology rather than his qualifications. Ever willing
to share his opinions on legal matters and legislation, the
conservative judge left a paper trail which his left-wing enemies
were just as willing to use against him in the nomination hearings.
Advocacy organizations borrowed a page or two from political
campaigns, buying up space in print and air on radio and tele-
vision broadcasts to lobby against Bork's elevation to the Supreme
Court. The anti-Bork campaign began almost immediately
after President Ronald Reagan announced his choice of the
Constitutionally mindful judge for the seat on the Supreme
Court that was being vacated by the retiring Justice Lewis F.
Powell in 1987. Right away, then-Senator Joseph Biden (he has
long been a political mischief-maker) announced that he would
lead the fight against Judge Bork with a typical Bidenesque
statement: "I don't have an open mind; the reason I don't is
that I know this man." Biden was partially right about the first
part of his declaration; he doesn't have an open mind --- he
has no mind. As far as his knowing Judge Bork, he knew this
fine example of constitutional jurisprudence from hunger.
But he rallied his fellow Democrats, along with some liberal
Republicans, to stop Bork's attainment of a seat on the big
court, with the help of the aforementioned advocacy groups,
which included People for the American Way (a misnomer
of a name for that far-left wing political group!), the American
Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Organization for
Women (NOW), and various other liberal organizations
banded together in a wide alliance.
One of the biggest criticisms of Judge Robert Bork was a 1963
article in New Republic magazine in which he criticized civil-
rights legislation which barred public accommodations, i.e.
restaurants and the like from discriminating on the basis of
race. Bork slammed the racism behind the discrimination,
denouncing it as "ugliness", while also writing "having the
state coerce you into more righteous paths" is "a principle of
unsurpassed ugliness." Bork decried the cure as being as bad
or worse than the disease which it was crafted to eradicate.
Concerning abortion, Bork testified at a 1981 Senate hearing
that Roe vs. Wade was "an unconstitutional decision, a
serious and wholly unjustifiable judicial usurpation of state
legislative authority." Before the 1973 ruling which made
abortion legal throughout the land, the states had decided
as to whether to allow it or not, and if allowed then the
states each regulated abortions as they saw fit. Bork also
took issue with the 1965 Supreme Court decision in
Griswold vs. Connecticut which established a constitutional
right to privacy that allowed married couples to purchase
contraception; indeed, some legal scholars today state
that they see no such privacy right guaranteed by the
Constitution. All of which, in left-wingers' minds, were
more than sufficient to damn, excoriate, ostracize and
demonize Judge Robert Bork.
But the iconic conservative legal scholar had the last ---
and best --- word nine years later when he wrote and
published his famous book "Slouching Towards Gomorrah:
Modern Liberalism and American Decline" (1996). In
his treatise, Bork wrote that the Supreme Court was
having what he termed a "crisis of legitimacy" due to
"the judicial adoption of the tenets of modern liberalism."
Bork wrote that to remedy the situation a constitutional
amendment to make any state or federal court decision
subject to override majority votes in the House and Senate
could be passed.
Born in Pittsburgh on March 1, 1927, the only child of Harry
and Elizabeth Bork graduated from the Hotchkiss School
in Lakeville, Connecticut in 1944, after which he enlisted
in the U.S. Marines. Later on Bork would earn his undergrad-
uate degree in law from the University of Chicago and after
a second hitch in the Marines would return to his alma mater
to attend its law school for his graduate degree. Bork actually
started out as a socialist but converted to conservatism and
strict adherence to the Constitution, crediting what he called
the "rigorous analysis" of his university's economists.
He was named U.S. Solicitor General by President Richard
Nixon at the start of Nixon's second term in 1973. Bork was
soon embroiled in the Watergate scandal when, as acting
attorney general, fired independent Watergate prosecutor
Archibald Cox and ensured that a new special prosecutor,
Leon Jaworski, would be named to take Cox' place. Another
item that the lefties vilified Bork for.
Judge Robert Bork had a passion for the law, and for the
Constitution which lays out its scope and parameters in
its application and its practice. In these, he received the
enmity and hatred of the political left and the respect and
admiration of the political right. Will we ever see the likes
of such a jurist again? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, may
this legal giant know the comfort and peace of a better place,
a place where he will have no scheming enemies to combat,
who won't countenance any other views but their own,
attacking the good names of anyone daring to stand in their
way. Rest in peace, Judge Bork. Your work is your