RIP, Robert Bork

posted at 10:31 am on December 19, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Perhaps no jurist has had as much impact in our lifetimes as Robert Bork without sitting on the Supreme Court — and perhaps no jurist has been as unfairly maligned.  After a life of public service, the US Senate under the direction of Ted Kennedy conducted a character assassination on Bork that denied him a seat on the high court and turned his surname into a synonym for smear campaigns.  Bork’s reputation outshone those of his critics in the end, however, and Bork remained influential on a new generation of legal thought.

Judge Bork passed away today at the age of 85:

Family members said Bork, 85, died early Wednesday morning. He had a history of heart problems and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung condition.

His funeral is scheduled for Saturday. …

President Ronald Regan nominated Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987. In a 58-to-42 vote, the Senate rejected his nomination — it was by one of the widest margins in U.S. history.

Republicans have long said his defeat was a completely partisan move and have said Bork was one of the greatest conservative figures in history.

Steven Hayward remembers the 1987 confirmation fight, and the irony of the Left’s attack on him today:

Bork’s nomination brought out the highest hypocrisy of the Left.  Take the current Vice President, Wide-Mouth Biden, as an example.  When President Carter nominated the liberal Abner Mikva to an appeals court in 1979, Biden rebuffed conservative complaints about Mikva’s activist liberal philosophy: “I think that the advice and consent responsibility of the Senate does not permit us to deprive the President of the United States from being able to appoint that person or persons who have a particular point of view unless it can be shown that their temperament does not fit the job.”  Ted Kennedy said on the Senate floor: “If strong political views were a disqualifying factor from serving on the federal bench, then all of us here today—and every man and women who has ever served in either house of Congress, or held political office—would be disqualified.”  Kennedy had made a similar argument in 1967 in defense of Thurgood Marshall’s appointment to the Supreme Court.  That all went out the window with Bork, of course.

Bork’s death today might well represent his ultimate revenge on the Left: had he been confirmed to the Court, his passing today (there’s no special reason to think he would have retired) would have opened up an appointment for President Obama to name a new Justice and tip the Court to the Left.  Instead, the man Reagan put in the seat Bork would have filled, Anthony Kennedy, will carry on, determined, I am reliably told, to serve at least until Obama is gone in part because he was offended by Obama’s demagogic attack on the Citizens United decision that Kennedy wrote.

Roger Kimball goes into more detail:

The vicious campaign waged against Judge Bork set a new low—possibly never exceeded—in the exhibition of unbridled leftist venom, indeed hate.  Reporters combed through the Borks trash hoping to find comprising tidbits; they inspected his movie rentals, and were disgusted to find the films of John Wayne liberally represented.  So hysterical was the campaign against Judge Bork that a new transitive verb entered our political vocabulary: “To Bork,” scruple at nothing in order to discredit and defeat a political figure. Monsieur Guillotine gave his name to that means of execution; “progressives,” those leftists haters of America who have so disfigured our national life since the 1960s, gave us the this new form of character assassination.  The so-called “Lion of the Senate,” Ted Kennedy, surely one of the most despicable men ever to hold high public office in the United States (yes, that’s saying something), stood on the Senate floor and emitted a serious of calumnious  lies designed not simply to prevent Judge Bork from being appointed to the Supreme Court but to soil his character irretrievably. “Robert Bork’s America,” quoth Kennedy,

 is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit down at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of democracy.

A breathtaking congeries of falsehoods that, were they not protected by the prerogatives of senatorial privilege, would have taken a conspicuous place in the annals of malicious slander and character assassination. In The Tempting of America, Judge Bork recounts his incredulity at this tissue of malign fabrication. “It had simply never occurred to me that anybody could misrepresent my career and views as Kennedy did.” At the time, he notes, many people thought that Kennedy had blundered by emitting so flagrant, and flagrantly untrue, an attack. They were wrong. His “calculated personal assault, . . . more violent than any against a judicial nominee in our country’s history,” did the job (with a little help from Joe Bidenand Arlen Specter). Not only was Kennedy instrumental in preventing a great jurist from taking his place on the Supreme Court, he also contributed immeasurably to the cheapening of American political discourse.

In a way, Robert Bork had the last laugh.  Ted Kennedy went to his grave a rancid, lumbering, pathetic laughing stock. Bork went from intellectual triumph to intellectual triumph, contributing now-classic studies to the library of legal understanding and penning two of the most important works of social criticism of the last several decades, the aforementioned Tempting of America and Slouching Toward Gomorrah, wild bestsellers both. I am proud to say that this spring Encounter Books will be publishing a memoir by Judge Bork called Saving Justice: Watergate,. The Saturday Night Massacre, and Other  Adventures of a Solicitor General.

The Federalist Society put together a must-view tribute to Bork in April of last year, while Bork was still around to appreciate it.  It’s a worthy obituary for today.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

Liam on December 19, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Brother, I know exactly how you feel. These evil, souless, and brainless libtards of the ilk of libfree are on the verge of, if not having done so already, destroying America. I find myself lashing out at their evil stupidity more and more, even as they feel more emboldened to spew it. Judge Bork was one of the last truly Conservative intellectuals and his loss only adds to our sense of hopelessness. I pray our Nation will return to sanity in my lifetime.

NOMOBO on December 19, 2012 at 2:39 PM

Bork’s entire career is worth reading about, not only due to his work on the bench and his ‘borking’ by Kennedy, but also due to his involvement in the Saturday Night Massacre during Watergate. The man certainly did have a long and interesting career.

RIP, sir.

Vatican Watcher on December 19, 2012 at 2:42 PM

Bork was Akin if he joins the clan. Nothing of value is lost.lester on December 19, 2012 at 1:08 PM

And with that comment, rest assured that nothing is gained.

Jabberwock on December 19, 2012 at 2:59 PM

While we’re talking about Nixon, what about Hillary`s opinion that if they came to trial, Nixon had no right to self defense? Ask her about it when she gets over her concussion.

itsspideyman on December 19, 2012 at 3:08 PM

NOMOBO on December 19, 2012 at 2:39 PM

I don’t mind differing opinions. But there is a time and place for everything, and liberals love taking advantage of a bad situation.

Last Friday, after the shootings at Sandy Hook made for a thread, the trolls invaded here in force. Not one kind word for the victims, not a single post saying, “We grieve like you are.”

And we all were grieving, trying to make sense of the unfathomable. But what did the trolls do?

They attacked without mercy. They lit off about their politics, not sparing a single one of us our tears without being forced into combat. And the liblets started the fight. They WANTED it! They thought sight of an advantage, and tried to exploit it. The libs tried using our own pain to their demented advantage, for a big win.

Bad enough media idiots were twittering sarcasm, but the libs who came here–the trolls who have actually dealt with us–were just as uncouth and merciless. Hell, the trolls were abusive from the get-go. We didn’t want to talk politics here after the tragedy last Friday. We wanted only to share news and how we hurt about the disaster. We hoped, and I’m sure some needed, to make sense of it all.

but the f*cking trolls refused to allow us that! They poured in here in droves right away, dumping their ghoulish invective against us. The trolls actually believe they hold the moral high ground, and stole and opportunity to ‘prove’ it.

All they proved instead is that they’re ghouls, carrion-eating zombies, vultures, jackals, opportunists, predators, and every other horrid thing that can be said of such primates. I don’t even consider liberals to be human, after their behavior here last Friday.

None of us liked Ted Kennedy, but not a one of us jumped for joy or tried gaining some imaginary political capital when the man died. But you can bet your bottom dollar there are liberal right celebrating the death of Judge Robert Bork.

The trolls here burned up the last of my goodwill. They’ll claim I’m being intolerant, but that’s another liberal lie. Their own words and actions last Friday are the cause. My reaction against them is the effect.

I call that ‘science’, like of Newton.

I aplogize to all decent Hotarians for all my invective. But until Admin rids us of the vile trolls we needlessly are forced to suffer, I’m going to be very unpleasant to trolls.

Liam on December 19, 2012 at 3:19 PM

But his philosophy was fundamentally immoral. That’s sort of that.

libfreeordie on December 19, 2012 at 1:04 PM

And that’s why you’ll never be right, libfree. You think the Constitution is ‘fundamentally immoral.’

Thank God you’re consigned to teaching irrelevant dreck at some sh1t-tier public school, where all you can do is poison mushbrained potheads to further hate this country.

Good Solid B-Plus on December 19, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Liberal senators and representatives, former students of Bork’s, declaimed his treatment by their own party, afterwards. A few even called Kennedy’s screed an outright lie.

Axeman on December 19, 2012 at 10:53 AM

It’s always afterwards. I won’t be watching television tonight. If I hear a Democrat deign to say something nice about Bork I’ll shoot my television.

When the Republicans learn that EVERY LAST G-DDAMN STINKING ONE of the Democrats IS Ted Kennedy, and EVERY ISSUE is a Bork hearing, THEN they’ll get it.

SAMinVA on December 19, 2012 at 3:26 PM

RIP Judge Bork. Some people in this country should be ashamed of themselves over the way they treated you. We would’ve been a better country had you been on the high court.

lonestar1 on December 19, 2012 at 3:27 PM

Bork’s death today might well represent his ultimate revenge on the Left: had he been confirmed to the Court, his passing today (there’s no special reason to think he would have retired) would have opened up an appointment for President Obama to name a new Justice and tip the Court to the Left. Instead, the man Reagan put in the seat Bork would have filled, Anthony Kennedy, will carry on, determined, I am reliably told, to serve at least until Obama is gone in part because he was offended by Obama’s demagogic attack on the Citizens United decision that Kennedy wrote

Ain’t karma something. That’s the first thing I thot of when I heard the news. Then again, had he been on the SCOTUS, several other decisions would have gone conservative that didn’t under Kennedy’s votes. Win some, lose some. Bottomline, Obooby has to wait a while longer before he gets to put in one of his own.

RIP Sir!!!

AH_C on December 19, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Oh, I love when sanctimonious MSM liberals get nailed!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/50249939/ns/local_news-philadelphia_pa/t/sam-donaldson-arrested-dui-delaware-cops/

Liam on December 19, 2012 at 3:48 PM

When the Republicans learn that EVERY LAST G-DDAMN STINKING ONE of the Democrats IS Ted Kennedy, and EVERY ISSUE is a Bork hearing, THEN they’ll get it.

SAMinVA on December 19, 2012 at 3:26 PM

They’ll never get it. That’s something WE need to get.

rrpjr on December 19, 2012 at 4:30 PM

I loved reading and listening to this man. I am so deeply sorry he wasn’t appointed to the job he was born for. The Left is evil incarnate.

rrpjr on December 19, 2012 at 4:32 PM

Liam on December 19, 2012 at 3:19 PM

Liam,
I’m not quite as forgiving as you. I disavowed every stinking soulless libtard on Nov. 7. Thess brainless jackals could not contain their glee at destroying this once great country and making a mockery of civil discourse.

I have been mostly absent from HA since then because I could not contain my visceral hate for the trolls, and I was certain it did more damage to my soul than it did to any soul they may possess.

But mocking the passing of Judge Bork was absolutely the last straw. I commented on the WaPo board and was soundly mocked, so I came back to HA for some comfort. And what do I see? A putrid a-hole like libfree desecrating this fine man’s memory.

We need to keep in mind that these are the pople who are currently in power, but their ruinous ways will make it temporary. I am old, and I hope I live that long. But I will rail against them as long as I live.

NOMOBO on December 19, 2012 at 4:39 PM

Godspeed, Your Honor. You deserved better than what you received.

ZK on December 19, 2012 at 4:41 PM

But his philosophy was fundamentally immoral. That’s sort of that.

libfreeordie on December 19, 2012 at 1:04 PM

So what about his philosophy was fundamentally immoral?

Explain or simply quit posting between bong hits.

itsspideyman on December 19, 2012 at 4:41 PM

I’m still waiting for the black gay liberal to explain the ‘superiority’ of black gay liberals.

Where are you, libfree?

Liam on December 19, 2012 at 4:43 PM

NOMOBO on December 19, 2012 at 4:39 PM

After I stopped being liberal, I began to hate them. All I have been waiting for is an event that shows them out. We got that last Friday.

Now I can finally hate them on the open. I have from last Friday, everything I need to trash to the trolls. And I’m going to be relentless about it.

Liam on December 19, 2012 at 4:51 PM

@libfree

It’s impossible for pathetic little you to understand straight men like me, because you’re gay. You’re black, so it’s obviously impossible for you to understand white men.

Some say you’re a female. If that’s true, you lose all around with your lectures. You couldn’t possibly understand a single thing about me.

Next time you want to pontificate, go to HuffPo.

Liam on December 19, 2012 at 5:03 PM

Oh, I love when sanctimonious MSM liberals get nailed!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/50249939/ns/local_news-philadelphia_pa/t/sam-donaldson-arrested-dui-delaware-cops/

Liam on December 19, 2012 at 3:48 PM

Yikes!
I used to know Sam’s son. He’s a very nice man who runs his own IT company, which did IT work for my former employer.

I wish you well w/ letting the lib trolls have it – if it comes to that. Over the last few days, they’ve been the worst kind of freaks with no regard for humanity. They are evil and revel in their evilness.

22044 on December 19, 2012 at 5:07 PM

I wish you well w/ letting the lib trolls have it – if it comes to that. Over the last few days, they’ve been the worst kind of freaks with no regard for humanity. They are evil and revel in their evilness.

22044 on December 19, 2012 at 5:07 PM

Oh, it’s going to come to that. After what the trolls did last Friday and over the weekend, I’m out for their souls. I’m going to trash every troll we had to suffer until Admin deletes their accounts. We have been abused by the trolls long enough.

Liam on December 19, 2012 at 5:10 PM

RIP

He wasn’t the first or last guy to lose a confirmation fight, but I don’t think he understood that, and never got past it. Pretty bitter guy.
His temperament was always more moralist than judicial.
And his role in Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre showed he was primarily beholden to political motivations.
As a judge, more dressed for the part than suited to play it.

verbaluce on December 19, 2012 at 5:18 PM

verbaluce on December 19, 2012 at 5:18 PM

It’s eating you up that if he was elected Obama would be moving the court to the Left, doesn’t it? :D

itsspideyman on December 19, 2012 at 5:33 PM

verbaluce on December 19, 2012 at 5:18 PM

Verbaldouche,
And what do you know about being a judge? I’m sure you never read any one of Judge Bork’s books or heard any one of his lectures. He did not seem bitter, just realistic about how his stellar reputation had been dragged through the mud by the slimiest senator in recent memory, and immortalized by the lying MSM. His was not a “confirmation fight”. It was Kennedy and Biden forming the basic lying tenor of the modern democrat party–carried on so aptly by His Highness Obutthead.

Now, as I’m sure Liam would agree—go F*CK yourself. You’ve F*UCKED us quite enough.

NOMOBO on December 19, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Apologies to decent Hotarians. After Sandy Hook, I’ve had my fill of liberals.

Liam on December 19, 2012 at 2:02 PM

No need to apologize, at least to me. The “moderators” of Hot Air or whoever is in charge needs to apologize to us for allowing these trolls free reign to post inflammatory and useless comments, most of which they will not defend when challenged.

Something of which we would not get the opportunity to do on liberal sites.

I’m not entirely sure why this is allowed. Again, it’s the initial reaction it seems of those on the right to prostrate themselves to liberals and why they get confused when they get abused by said liberals.

I’m finding myself less and less interested in reading or commenting here, mostly because of the trolls. I doubt I’m alone.

kim roy on December 19, 2012 at 6:06 PM

It is true “they that laugh last laugh best”. Just think if the media and the rest of the hate America and the constitution crowd would have done the right thing when Bork was up for the court they could have had another one of their nut job hate America and the constitutionalists on the court by Obama to further stomp, tear and burn the constitution

pwb on December 19, 2012 at 6:08 PM

Rest in peace, Nixonian hatchet man and social “conservative” fascist.

Armin Tamzarian on December 19, 2012 at 6:21 PM

Godspeed,CHIEF JUSTICE Bork!!!

SMACKRUNNER on December 19, 2012 at 6:25 PM

He saw the ricks ahead!

Watergate divided the nation and Justice Bork fired Cox, finding that President Nixon had the power.

Where did he ever get the wild idea that if a judge is not bound to the Constitution he is not bound by anything?

Like activist, leftist opinions could lead to identity politics, polarization and divisiveness. They just want colorblind justice and the recognized limits on the executive branch!

Paraphrasing Sotomayor: The ethnicity and sex of a judge “….may and will make a difference in our judging.”

And then we had the Obamacare decision on forcing the citizenry to buy something.

Wait…

RIP, Judge.

IlikedAUH2O on December 19, 2012 at 6:44 PM

Oh,and by the way,trolls…let’s put Bork’s intellect up against any of your justice’s acumen.Read him and WEEP!

SMACKRUNNER on December 19, 2012 at 6:45 PM

Armin Tamzarian

but enough about you dope fiend

tom daschle concerned on December 19, 2012 at 7:22 PM

RIP.

Bmore on December 19, 2012 at 8:30 PM

I’m going to be very unpleasant to trolls.

Liam on December 19, 2012 at 3:19 PM

Fine by me, take a dump down their throats for all I care. They are enemy’s to my way of life. To heII with them all!

Bmore on December 19, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Just listened to Mark Levins talk about his experiance with
justice Robert Bork. Was a great segment.

Rip Robert Bork.

He’s looking way way way down at a flaming Ted Kennedy

Texyank on December 19, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Shortly after his nomination for supreme court justice was voted down I had the opportunity to hear him speak. He was an inspiring and gifted orator. I kept thinking the whole time… how could this man not be on the Supreme Court?

By the way, the topic of his address was the liberal agenda and its impact on private business. It was a warning to us. It’s no wonder Kennedy and his ilk didn’t want him on the court.

RIP

Trainwreck on December 19, 2012 at 9:23 PM

I recall that during the nomination questions, he was asked if he tried any ‘weed’ in his younger years. There was a cartoon that came out the next day that said “If conservatives were experimenting with weed in their youth, can you imagine what liberals were doing?”

ricer1 on December 19, 2012 at 9:37 PM

If you want an intellectual treat and be abused of the notion that Judge Bork was some wooden thinker, read his concurring opinion in Ollman v, Evans, a 1984 decision of the D.C. Circuit. Then, feel very, very sad that Judge Bork was not on the U.S. Supreme Court. That Judge Bork was not on the U.S. Supreme Court is on the list of damages that the left wingers have done to the country.

Phil Byler on December 21, 2012 at 7:28 AM

Comment pages: 1 2