Skip to comments.Robert H. Bork 1927-2012, RIP
Posted on 12/19/2012 6:20:43 AM PST by cotton1706
Judge Robert H. Bork, one of the the greatest jurists this country has ever produced, died early this morning from heart complications in a Virginia hospital near his home. He was 84.
Bork was a national celebrity. Several years ago, my wife and I visited the Borks in Maine where they had taken a summer house off Somes Sound. I cannot count the times that total strangers would approach us at a lobster shack or park asking to shake the Judges hand and to assure him of their admiration and support.
Borks celebrity was only partly conferred upon him by brilliant legal work and his service as Solicitor General and then Acting Attorney General in the tumultuous Watergate years of the Nixon administration. (Andrew McCarthy wrote an excellent summary of Judge Borks work in The New Criterion a few years ago: Robert H. Bork on Law and Life.) But by far the most important fuel for fame was the riveting, not to say obscene, attack upon his candidacy for the Supreme Court in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan.
The vicious campaign waged against Judge Bork set a new lowpossibly never exceededin 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, thats 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 Borks 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 countrys history, did the job (with a little help from Joe Biden and 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 aofremention Tempting of America and Slouching Toward Gemorrah, 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.
Bob Bork was a great American and a dear friend, witty, compassionate, with a laser-like analytical mind and compendious store of cultural reference. (It was he who introduced me to John Buchans marvelous memoir Memory, Hold the Door.) I will have more to say about Bob and his achievement in due course. For now, I wish merely to register my gratitude for his friendship, admiration of his work, and sorrow at his passing. Requiescat in pace.
Robert Bork was a GREAT American and a good man. Rest in Peace Mr. Bork. Thank you for your contributions to this country.
RIP Judge Bork
May God welcome you into Paradise, Judge.
And we thank you for what you did here and for what you tried to do here as well.
*shudder* if he had been on the court.... Obama would be replacing him!
(for the first time in my life I am glad Bork didn’t make it on the court)
I had the same exact thought, assuming he had not retired.
One of the really good guys. Thank you, your honor. May you rest in peace.
My heart aches as all the history of what was done to this Good Man passes before my memory.
RIP, Your Honor.
Rest in Peace, Your Honor. Thanks for posting this fine eulogy by Roger Kimball.
Rest in peace, Judge Bork.
May he rest in peace. We are losing a lot of great men and only the dregs seem to be left.
RIP Robert Bork.
I did not become an activist and really get motivated until the Reagan era. We finally had a man to talk-the-talk. With the nomination of Bork, we saw the opportunity to have a Jurist enshrine the legal understanding of our Constitution and provide a sea change to our direction at the Judicial branch.
His “borking” was the vivid example of the leftist full control of the Democrat Party agenda and its total orientation against the Republic and all its structure.
I hope our legal scholars chime in and I am going to try and listen to Mark Levin tonight who should have a lot to say as I am sure RB was an influence on his younger years.
R.I.P. Judge Bork.
“Thanks to Ted Kennedy and his ilk, the country was denied a great jurist on the Supreme Court.”
Thanks to Ted Kennedy and his ilk, the country was denied the future that it was entitled to.
Sorry I gave him a ride to NYC once (even if it was in the coach behind the engine...)
Justice Bork will no longer have to see the continued destruction of this once-great nation.
But let us not whitewash Bork in his death: He was also a gungrabber.
Bork has denounced what he calls the "NRA view" of the Second Amendment, something he describes as the "belief that the constitution guarantees a right to Teflon-coated bullets." Instead, he has argued that the Second Amendment merely guarantees a right to participate in a government militia.
I don't know what kind of lies Ted Kennedy spread in Massachusetts about Judge Bork's role in the Saturday Night Massacre, but in 1987, then-Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, and his then-Deputy AG, Bill Ruckelshaus told me the real story. When Nixon fired Archibold Cox, all THREE top political appointees in the Justice Department at the time--Richardson, Ruckelshaus, AND Bork (Solicitor General)--but Richardson and Ruckelshaus told Bork to "hold the bag," because all three thought they if they resigned at the same time, they'd put the Justice Department's highest-ranking position in the hands of a career diplomat, thereby creating what they feared would be a "constitutional crisis." Accordingly, while Richardson and Ruckelshaus hogged the "glory" and "fame" of resigning in protest, they left Bork to run the Justice Department, and to suffer Ted Kennedy's--and others'--lies.
I really liked him and a real shame he was run out of town on a rail. I went to see him speak one time in the early 1990’s at Franklin College near Indy. He was very interesting and hilarious, opposite of what the LSM tried to project of him.
More like you and we might still have a Republic.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.