As Republicans stymie President Obama’s judicial nominees at an unprecedented rate, they are fond of arguing that the Democrats did it too. They cite the admittedly contentious confirmation hearings of Robert Bork, whose nomination to the Supreme Court was defeated in 1987. Bork, however, in contrast to the relatively moderate, uncontroversial nominees put forward by Obama, was a radical jurist with views that reached far outside the mainstream. And he hasn’t mellowed with age.
- He acknowledged that opposing 1960’s landmark civil rights legislation on the ground that government coercion of “righteous” behavior is “a principle of unsurpassed ugliness.”
- He still disagrees with the Supreme Court’s 1965 decision inGriswold v. Connecticut which struck down as a violation of the right to privacy a law that prohibited married couples from using contraceptives.
- He maintains the First Amendment should be limited to political speech and not protect, “any other form of expression, be it scientific, literary or…pornographic”
- He does not believe the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause should apply to women. According to Bork,”it seems to me silly to say, ‘Gee, they’re discriminated against and we need to do something about it.’ They aren’t discriminated against anymore.”
After Bork’s Supreme Court nomination was scuttled, the vacancy went to Anthony Kennedy, who is the so-called swing vote on the present court. Imagine if Bork hadn’t been Borked. There he would sit with the other radicals on the Court — Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito — to form an extremely frightening and very solid majority that would quickly eviscerate rights for women, minorities, labor and criminal defendants, erect insurmountable barriers for challenging the actions of corporations in federal court, and gut federal regulations.
Robert Bork represents more than misleading shorthand for the politicization of the judicial nomination process. He is alive and well and dispensing legal advice to the probable Republican candidate for president. Presumably, Romney intends to nominate to the federal bench those with legal views consistent with his advisor. If for no other reason, this is why we must support President Obama’s re-election.
Fair and Unbalanced