Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Robert Bork (1927-2012)

Bork as solicitor general executed Nixon's command
to fire Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox

"It was a very small [poll] tax, it was not discriminatory, and I doubt that it had much impact on the welfare of the nation one way or the other…" - Robert Bork defending a poll tax at his 1987 confirmation hearing - speaking to Sen. Edward Kennedy
Former U.S. Circuit Court Judge Robert Bork was a moralizer given to self-righteous morbid laments.  The West was going to hell - Slouching Toward Gomorrah, America becoming "A country I don't recognize", due to the "Tyranny" of  liberal judges - to cite some of his book titles.  He believed he had been "borked" - savaged like a modern day Thomas More in the Senate Chamber rather than the Tower.  He was Nixon's hatchet man who fired Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.  As Solicitor General he demonstrated that he would do the state some service if only the Crown would ask.  

The year his Supreme Court nomination was rejected - 1987 - was also the year of the Iran-Contra Arms for Hostages hearings at which Senators Warren Rudman and Daniel Inouye (both deceased this year)  confronted Col. Oliver North a White House black operative who celebrated his law-breaking as part of the patriot game.

At Bork's confirmation hearings he was memorably confronted by Edward Kennedy who renounced Bork's opposition to civil rights and women's rights.

A short course on what we have been spared by the election of Barack Obama rather than Mitt Romney to whom Bork was senior judicial advisor may be gleaned from this obit by Jeffrey Toobin. - GWC

Jeffrey Toobin - on Robert Bork - New Yorker
"Robert Bork, who died Wednesday, was an unrepentant reactionary who was on the wrong side of every major legal controversy of the twentieth century. The fifty-eight senators who voted against Bork for confirmation to the Supreme Court in 1987 honored themselves, and the Constitution. In the subsequent quarter-century, Bork devoted himself to proving that his critics were right about him all along.Bork was born in 1927 and came of age during the civil-rights movement, which he opposed. He was, in the nineteen-sixties, a libertarian of sorts; this worldview led him to conclude that poll taxes were constitutional and the Civil Rights Act of 1965 was not. (Specifically, he said that law was based on a “principle of unsurpassed ugliness.”) As a professor at Yale Law School, his specialty was antitrust law, which he also (by and large) opposed."
h/t to Brad Delong for both leads
'via Blog this'

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