It has been a couple of weeks since the death of Robert Bork, which occurred shortly before Christmas and didn’t really get the news coverage that Bork merited.
Bork died at age 85. In 1987, he became a national headline when President Ronald Reagan nominated him to the Supreme Court. He was a judicial conservative, a “strict constructionist.” He warned about the road America was embarking upon in neglecting its Constitutional principles, and saw doom and gloom ahead. He was grimly pessimistic about America generally, dreading modern liberalism’s grip on the nation. Liberalism, Bork insisted, was pushing America toward decline. We were headed to hell in a hand-basket. A decade after his failed confirmation, Bork authored a bestselling book tellingly titled, ”Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline.”
Bork had seen liberalism up close and full throttle—and at its open-throated angriest. During his unsuccessful confirmation hearings in 1987, he was plainly smeared. He was hysterically and unfairly portrayed by radical abortion feminists and the likes of Senator Ted Kennedy as an abuser and assaulter of women—a Neanderthal, a kind of political/cultural gargoyle. Liberals demonized Bork and railroaded his nomination, ushering in a whole new incivility and politicization to the judicial nomination process. Liberal journalists literally dug through Bork’s trash looking for anything to attack the man; they went to the nearby video store to find out what he rented.
“Hmmm,” they rubbed their hands together hopefully, “any X-rated flicks, Judge Bork?”
Alas, that wasn’t Robert Bork’s universe. They learned that Bork had an affinity not for pornographic film but for “Fred and Ginger” movies.
“Hah,” they hissed, “what a square!”
The left’s assault on Bork was unhinged, a precursor of behavior to come with later judges they disliked, particularly pro-life judges. Liberals were so nasty to Bork that the man’s name has become a verb: When liberals today vilify a conservative Supreme Court nominee, like a Clarence Thomas, we say that the nominee has been “Borked.”
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of the book, “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.” His other books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism" and "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."