December 19, 2012

IT'S THE TEXT THEY'RE AFRAID OF:

Former High Court Nominee Bork Dies (STEPHEN MILLER, 12/19/12, WSJ)

Nominated by President Reagan to fill the Supreme Court spot of the retiring centrist justice Lewis Powell, Mr. Bork became the object of opposition by liberals who feared, among other things, that he would tip the court's balance on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion. Mr. Bork had publicly condemned the decision as legally shoddy, and affirmed this view under Senate questioning.

Within an hour of his nomination in 1987, Sen. Edward Kennedy, paladin of the left, rose in the Senate to condemn Mr. Bork's jurisprudence.

"Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution," Mr. Kennedy said. "The doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens."

The words rankled and Mr. Bork dismissed them, telling author Michael Kelly that "There was not a line in that speech that was accurate." But the speech set the tone for the hearings, the first ever televised for the high court, which ended in Mr. Bork's being rejected, 58 votes to 42. [...]

Collaborating at times with Yale constitutional scholar Alexander Bickel, Mr. Bork developed a conservative judicial philosophy centered on what he took to be the original intent of the Constitution's framers.

In an influential 1971 Indiana Law Journal article, he assailed the high court's recognition of a right to privacy in Griswold v. Connecticut, contending that the court should recognize only rights clearly specified in the Constitution.

Among his other controversial holdings was that the first amendment applied only to political speech, and that Roe v. Wade was a usurpation of state's rights. It was that position, more than any other, that would galvanize opposition to his Supreme Court nomination. [...]

Mr. Bork, looking distinctly out of the ordinary with his rotund frame and scraggly red beard, barely tried to sugarcoat his contempt for judges who found new "rights" lurking in the Constitution. Meanwhile, critics vilified him and tried to dig up dirt by investigating such ephemera as his video rentals. (The leaked list contained mainly Hollywood classics; the leaking of the list help spur the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988, thus fulfilling Mr. Bork's contention that Americans enjoyed a right of privacy only as enumerated by specific legislation.)
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Posted by at December 19, 2012 5:51 PM
  

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