Wednesday, April 23, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Bork, whose failed nomination made history, dies

MCLEAN, Va. — Robert H. Bork, who stepped in to fire the Watergate prosecutor at Richard Nixon’s behest and whose failed 1987 nomination to the Supreme Court helped draw the modern boundaries of cultural fights over abortion, civil rights and other issues, has died. He was 85.

Robert H. Bork Jr. confirmed his father died Wednesday at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Va. The son said Bork died from complications of heart ailments.

Brilliant, blunt and piercingly witty, Robert Heron Bork had a long career in the law that took him from respected academic to a totem of conservative grievance.

Along the way, Bork was accused of being a partisan hatchet man for Nixon when, as the third-ranking official at the Justice Department, he fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in the Saturday Night Massacre of 1973. Attorney General Elliot Richardson had resigned rather than fire Cox. The next in line, William Ruckelshaus, refused to fire Cox and was himself fired.

Bork’s drubbing during his Senate nomination hearings made him a hero to the right and a rallying cry for younger conservatives.

The Senate experience embittered Bork and hardened many of his conservative positions, even as it gave him prominence as an author and long popularity on the conservative speaking circuit.

Conservative legal scholars lauded Bork as an intellectual leader of the move toward originalism, which calls for the Constitution to be interpreted as it was envisioned by the Founding Fathers. Eugene Meyer, president of The Federalist Society, where Bork co-chaired the board of visitors, described Bork as “a truly kind and decent man” who helped mentor a generation of conservative law professors and practitioners.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia called his former appeals court colleague “one of the most influential legal scholars of the past 50 years. His impact on legal thinking in the fields of antitrust and constitutional law was profound and lasting.”

Known before his Supreme Court nomination as one of the foremost national experts on antitrust law, Bork became much more widely known as a conservative cultural critic in the years that followed.

His 1996 book, “Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline,” was an acid indictment of what Bork viewed as the crumbling ethics of modern society and the morally bankrupt politics of the left.

“Opportunities for teenagers to engage in sex are … more frequent than previously; much of it takes place in homes that are now empty because the mothers are working,” Bork wrote then. “The modern liberal devotion to sex education is an ideological commitment rather than a policy of prudence.”

Bork, known until his death as “Judge Bork,” served a relatively short tenure on the bench. He was a judge on the nation’s most prestigious appellate panel, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, from 1982 until 1988, when he resigned in the wake of the bitter Supreme Court nomination fight.

Earlier, Bork had been a private attorney, Yale Law School professor and a Republican political appointee.

At Yale, two of his constitutional law students were Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham.

“I no longer say they were students,” Bork joked long afterward. “I say they were in the room.”

Nixon named Bork as solicitor general, the administration’s advocate before the Supreme Court, in January, 1973.

Bork served as acting attorney general after Richardson’s resignation, then returned to the solicitor general’s job until 1977, far outlasting the Nixon administration.

Long mentioned as a possible Supreme Court nominee, Bork got his chance toward the end of Ronald Reagan’s second term. He was nominated July 1, 1987, to fill the seat vacated by Justice Lewis F. Powell.

Nearly four months later the Senate voted 58-42 to defeat him, after the first national political and lobbying offensive mounted against a judicial nominee.

It was the largest negative vote ever recorded for a Supreme Court nominee.

Reagan and Bork’s Senate backers called him eminently qualified — a brilliant judge who had managed to write nearly a quarter of his court’s majority rulings in just five years on the bench without once being overturned by the Supreme Court.

In a written statement Wednesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who voted to confirm Bork, called him “a true lion of the law.”

“After many years in public service, Judge Bork thankfully remained a teacher and educated countless students of the law about what it means to take the Constitution seriously. He was a dear friend who deserved to be on the Supreme Court,” Hatch said.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., summed up the opposition at the time by saying, “In Robert Bork’s America there is no room at the inn for blacks and no place in the Constitution for women.”

Critics also called Bork a free-speech censor and a danger to the principle of separation of church and state.

Bork’s opponents used his prolific writings against him, and some called him a hypocrite when he seemed to waffle on previous strongly worded positions.

Despite a reputation for personal charm, Bork did not play well on television. He answered questions in a seemingly bloodless, academic style and he cut a severe figure, with hooded eyes and heavy, rustic beard.

Stoic and stubborn throughout, Bork refused to withdraw when his defeat seemed assured.

The fight has defined every high-profile judicial nomination since, and largely established the opposing roles of vocal and well-funded interest groups in Senate nomination fights. Bork would say later that the ferocity of the fight took him and the Reagan White House by surprise, and he rebuked the administration for not doing more to salvage his nomination.

The process begat a verb, “to bork,” meaning vilification of a nominee on ideological grounds. In later years, some accused Bork of borking Clinton nominees with nearly the zeal that some liberal commentators had pursued him.

Bork denied any animus, and said he was happy commenting, writing and making money outside government. Even friends did not entirely believe that.

“He was very embittered by the experience,” said lawyer Andrew Frey, a longtime friend who worked for Bork in the solicitor general’s office. “He was not well treated, and partly as a result of that he did become more conservative.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Delta barriers no longer needed

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1

 
 
Supervisors voice concern on state Delta plans

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Dental clinic coming Friday, Saturday

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 4 Comments

 
Vacaville man to stand trial for baseball bat attack

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3

Rotarians talk about running clinic to help Haitians

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District eyes new auditor

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

 
County honors Purple Heart recipients

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

 
Solano recognizes 1,300-strong volunteer corps

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

 
Highway 12 night work scheduled in Delta

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A7

 
Kids fishing derby in Fairfield is part of Earth Day

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A7

 
Garamendi to host open house at Fairfield office

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A7

 
County approves Icon agreements

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B9

 
Ceremony set to break ground for Suisun City Walmart

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B9, 19 Comments | Gallery

Dutch Bros. opening with free drinks

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B9, 7 Comments

 
Mustangs and More event moved back to October

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A10

Museum readies to host Sallie Fox Day in Vacaville

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
Golf tournament to raise funds for children

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Rotary club to host clay shooting derby

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A11

 
Ghost Walk returns to Suisun City

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A11

Penalty decision looms in Winters homicide case

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A11

 
NAMI talk on reducing mental health stigma

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A11

 
.

US / World

Michigan affirmative ban is OK, Supreme Court says

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
In Internet TV case, justices show concern

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

GOP candidate releases education policy overview

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Analysis: Putin likely to ignore West on Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Biden: Russia must ‘stop talking and start acting’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Most Sherpas decide to leave Everest for season

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Grieving borrowers told to repay student loan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Jet stowaway at hospital; security issues linger

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

SKorea ferry toll hits 146 as search gets tougher

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Ukraine orders new ‘anti-terror’ operation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

In Ukraine’s east, mayor held hostage by insurgent

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Acts of bravery emerge from pilloried ship crew

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

‘Piles and piles’ of bodies in S. Sudan slaughter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
FedEx sued over deadly California bus crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Obama views mudslide scene, mourns with survivors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
IRS awards bonuses to 1,100 who owe back taxes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A15, 1 Comment

.

Opinion

Mystery of Ukraine’s anti-Semitic pamphlet

By Frida Ghitis | From Page: A13

 
Editorial cartoons for April 23, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A13

 

Groundwater becomes next big California fight

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A13

 
Fairfield’s main problem is the mayor

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13, 4 Comments

.

Living

Solving and resolving life’s problems

By Barton Goldsmith | From Page: A2

 
Today in History for April 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Community Calendar: April 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
 
A healthy take on the very not healthy Scotch egg

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

How can I get my 12-year-old grandson to sleep in his own bed?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

 
Horoscopes for April 23, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

DeGeneres making design series for HGTV

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Discovery to chronicle Everest avalanche

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Bieber seeks delay in Fla. DUI trial

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in Philly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

5 Fairfield runners finish Boston Marathon

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Sharks beat Kings 4-3 in OT, take 3-0 series lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Prep swimming update: Postseason looms on horizon

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
SCC softball ends regular season with 29 straight wins

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Seahawks acquire QB Terrelle Pryor

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NFL playoff game to air on ESPN for 1st time

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

MLB suspends 4 after Brewers-Pirates brawl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Djokovic: Wrist better, will try to play in Madrid

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Armstrong coach Bruyneel banned for 10 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Pujols’ 500th HR helps Angels beat Nationals 7-2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Rangers rally for two runs in ninth to beat A’s

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Beverly Hanson, forgotten pioneer in women’s golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Tech boom presents new wrinkles for Wrigley Field

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Warriors announce new plans for SF arena

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Kentucky freshman Julius Randle to enter NBA draft

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
AP Source: N.Y. Giants’ Hill facing 3rd suspension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Warriors’ Curry eager to erase Game 2 nightmare

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Spurs’ Popovich wins NBA Coach of the Year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Raiders begin offseason workouts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
David Moyes out as Manchester United manager

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NBA Playoffs: Raptors even series with Nets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Novartis reshapes business with GSK, Lilly deals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

AT&T had strong 1Q on wireless installment plans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Valeant, Ackman make $45.6B Allergan bid

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

.

Obituaries

Robert James Carty Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Richard P. Horn

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Dondi Martin

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Anne Irene Elizabeth Fulgoni

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

Kyong Hee Maxwell

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Norma O’Regan

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard Of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7