Statement of Committee for Justice President Curt Levey on
the passing of Judge Robert H. Bork:
The nation has lost an intellectual and moral giant with the
passing of Judge Robert Bork this morning.
His passing sadly reminds us of how much we lost in 1987 when, upon Judge Bork’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, the political opportunism and shameful behavior of a number of senators blocked his confirmation. “Borking” was introduced to the English language as a term for unleashing the politics of personal destruction on an otherwise qualified nominee.
The integrity of judicial confirmations and, indeed, the very
spirit of politics in Washington have suffered as a result of what was done to
Judge Bork. Even many liberal observers
concede that the politicized confirmation process and content-free confirmation
hearings so bemoaned today are rooted in Judge Bork’s defeat. Today’s vacuous confirmation hearings make Judge
Bork’s honest and highly substantive testimony in 1987 before a hostile Senate Judiciary
Committee – headed by Sen. Joe Biden – seem even more courageous than it did 25
Judge Bork’s tremendous courage and integrity, along with his
towering intellect, would have ensured his place as one of the great U.S. Supreme
Court Justices. But that would only have capped off what otherwise stands as
one of the great legal careers in American history, encompassing both his scholarly
work as a Yale Law School professor and the author of several legal books and
his service to his country as Solicitor General of the United States and a D.C.
However, Judge Bork’s greatest contribution to the law
cannot be found in any one position he held.
Instead, he will long be remembered for transforming American law
through his intellectual and moral leadership in the battle against the
standard-less “living Constitution” approach to American jurisprudence that had
become so fashionable in the middle of the twentieth century.
Judge Bork was a hero and inspiration to those of us who
will continue the battle against judicial activism, in which judges “arrive at
results by announcing principles that were never contemplated by those who
wrote and voted for the law,” said Bork. Though we mourn his loss, we are grateful
for his life and his contribution to the law, which will live on beyond the
years of the younger lawyers and scholars he inspired.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Judge Bork’s family.