Skip to main content

From Bloomberg:

Robert Bork, the U.S. judge and legal scholar whose nomination to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan set off a battle for the judiciary that lived on long after the U.S. Senate rejected him, has died. He was 85.

He died this morning at Virginia Medical Center in Arlington, Virignia, said his son, Robert Jr. The cause was heart disease.

His lasing legacy: "Borking"
Bork’s defeat in the Senate by a roll call of 58 to 42 -- the most votes ever against a Supreme Court nominee -- established new rules for how prospective justices get selected and vetted. The word “borking” entered the political lexicon, meaning, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, trying to block candidates for public office “by systematically defaming or vilifying them.”

“My name became a verb,” Bork told CNN in 2005, “and I regard that as one form of immortality.”

In nationally televised hearings, the Senate Judiciary Committee delved into Bork’s ideology, not just his legal qualifications or competence. His past commentary on hot-button issues became fodder for his interrogators, establishing that long paper trails can be liabilities for judicial nominees.

Advocacy groups adopted the tactics of political campaigns, paying for print and broadcast advertising as part of what Ethan Bronner, in “Battle for Justice: How the Bork Nomination Shook America” (1989), called an “unprecedented lobbying campaign against a Supreme Court nominee.”

There was so much about the man's career that was remarkable. Please do read the whole Bloomberg article about it. From the progressive perspective, Bork was a vile candidate for the bench:

Before the confirmation hearings even began, Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, the Judiciary Committee chairman who was then seeking the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination, declared that he would lead the fight against Bork.

“I don’t have an open mind,” said Biden, the future vice president. “The reason I don’t is that I know this man.”

In a 1963 article for New Republic magazine, Bork had criticized civil-rights legislation that barred restaurants, hotels and other public accommodations from discriminating on the basis of race. While the “ugliness” of racism was clear, he wrote, “having the state coerce you into more righteous paths” is “a principle of unsurpassed ugliness.”
...
On abortion, he had testified at a 1981 Senate hearing that Roe v. Wade was “an unconstitutional decision, a serious and wholly unjustifiable judicial usurpation of state legislative authority.” He also had criticized the 1965 Supreme Court decision establishing a constitutional right to privacy that, among other things, permitted married couples to purchase contraception.

As the confirmation hearings began, Senator Edward Kennedy, a Democrat, said Bork “is publicly itching to overrule many of the great decisions of the Supreme Court that seek to fulfill the promise of justice for all Americans.”

But THIS is what set Bork off on his right-wing career:
In what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre, Nixon on Oct. 20, 1973, ordered the dismissal of the independent Watergate prosecutor, Archibald Cox. The attorney general, Elliot Richardson, and his deputy, William Ruckelshaus, both resigned rather than fulfill the order. That left Bork as acting attorney general, and he carried out the firing of Cox while ensuring that a new special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, was appointed to continue the investigation.
May he, his family, and his friends know peace.
EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site