Talk:Robert Bork

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Kennedy Unfairly Dismissed[edit]

Kennedy's criticism is dismissed without addressing his specific claims, for example: "Mr. Bork should also be rejected by the Senate because he stands for an extremist view of the Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court that would have placed him outside the mainstream of American constitutional jurisprudence in the 1960s, let alone the 1980s. He opposed the Public Accommodations Civil Rights Act of 1964. He opposed the one-man one-vote decision of the Supreme Court the same year. He has said that the First Amendment applies only to political speech, not literature or works of art or scientific expression." [1] In fact, this criticism was confirmed during the hearings. [2] --Forrest Johnson (talk) 23:27, 24 October 2011 (UTC)


He's obviously used as the basis for one of the judges in the Simpsons. Are we allowed to put a Simpsons reference in here if it's properly cited? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:57, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

-Rentals No mention of how he rented Triumph of the Will all those times? That was the biggest issue in the nominating process! I'm mystified. (and I obviously don't know how to put this in the right place)Tleilaxu (talk) 02:39, 5 January 2008 (UTC)


--The politics of Judge Bork's rejection for Supreme Court justice are also described from an ideological point of view, as I see it. There was unusually intense, unusually widespread public opposition to the nomination--not (or at least not primarily) because of liberal pressure groups, but primarily because the nominee's clearly stated views on major Constitutional issues were seen by millions of Americans as extreme and potentially threatening to fundamental American liberties. The article effectively characterizes the American public and an unusually large majority of the U.S. Senate as followers of liberal pressure groups. But such groups don't have the independent power to determine the outcome of a Senate vote. The contrary insinuation is, I think, part of the Right's phony representation of itself as some kind of persecuted minority--as if in some way, Bork had an inherent right to be on the Supreme Court, which was denied to him unfairly.

Apart from giving the Right an excuse for a lasting resentment, the major effect of the failed Bork nomination has been that prospective nominees for high court positions are now "vetted" more carefully, to make sure that no one can hold them responsible for their positions on any politically sensitive issues. That trend makes the hearing process go more smoothly, but it is not at all clear that the people's interests are being well served by it.

How the politics of the Bork nomination led to the debacle of Clarence Thomas' nomination and confirmation should certainly be discussed somewhere--perhaps on Clarence Thomas' page--though to do that without ideological slant would require a degree of detachment which I can scarcely imagine.

DSatz 22:42, Dec 31, 2004 (UTC)

On revisiting the page six months later, it looks considerably better to me from an NPOV standpoint. Many thanks to those who have worked on it. DSatz 22:25, Jun 2, 2005 (UTC)
 : The question was always whether having a strict interpretation of law should be considered an extremist viewpoint. The function of 'liberal pressure groups' was in being alarmist and claiming that if the courts acted more strictly, we'd lose all of our rights, while the legislature always has the ability to pass new laws and establish rights that way. There was also the insinuation that people who supported Bork must have been racist, because of the effect of some of his viewpoints. I don't consider myself as on 'the right', but I respect conservative attitude towards the courts. Their view on the judiciary should have never been considered 'extreme', so Bork was a victim of political fashion. Your view that conservatives were playing victims is based on your POV that their opinions are extreme. But what if they aren't?

I am a conservative and this page, at least on first blush, seems fair to me. But, give me a little time...I'm sure I'll find SOMETHING wrong with it! lol!

Big Daddy

Ps So good. I guess one point that could be made was that Bork'd during the 'bad old days' of the news media, before Fox news and even before Limbaugh gained much of his clout.

So, in essence the PR job done on him by the left was not scrutinized as carefully in the media as it would be today.

Thus, the "unusually widespread public opposition" of the man, as described above by DSatz, may be more a function of the effectiveness of a left-leaning press unhindered by the countervaling efforts of Bill O'Reilly etc, than any actual nation wide concensus.

Big Daddy 05:03, 8 September 2005 (UTC)

"Bork" as a verb[edit]

Re: "Saturday Night Massacre"[edit]

The description of the joke leaves one with the impression that Robert Bork had fired Archibald Cox for an illegitimate reason when he did so upon Richard Nixon's order and only after Elliot Richardson convinced him not to resign in protest as Richardson had done. The encyclopedia gets it right on the "Saturday Night Massacre" page, it ought to get it right here.

People usually apologize for being wrong, so at least DSatz is honest about that. I doubt he is honest about remembering the Bork joke regarding the Saturday Night Massacre, but even if his memory is accurate it is irrelevant. Find a serious contemporaneous citation or leave it out. Actually, just plain leave it out. Maybe such a reference would belong in a comprehensive history, but it not a significant fact about the subject, and the punch line is biased as pointed out in the comment “Bork” as verb above.

This alternative verb meaning has crept back in. I have never heard of this "original meaning." Perhaps someone could enlighten me as to a citation? Otherwise, it should go.Rkevins82 06:00, 5 August 2005 (UTC)

- On January 11, 2006 someone identified only by IP address ( deleted the part of a posting of mine to which Rkevins82 was responding here. It had read in part: 'Many years before Judge Bork was ever nominated to the Supreme Court, a well known joke said that "borking" was "firing a man for doing exactly what he was hired to do" (i.e. Judge Bork had "borked" Archibald Cox, whose job had been to investigate criminal activities in the Nixon White House).'

Mr. Bork's justifications for his actions in the "Saturday Night Massacre" were greeted with quite some derision at the time. A humorous bumper sticker from the same time said, "Impeach the Cox-Sacker"--referring of course to President Nixon, but echoing a similar derision. Mr. Bork's willingness to carry out President Nixon's order, after others before him had resigned rather than do so, was seen as craven and shameful, and the joke that I paraphrased was one of the ways in which this was expressed. As I said, I can still remember from whom I first heard the joke (Wayne M., a salesman at the company where I was working as a programmer), where we were, etc.--and the teller of the joke wasn't even a "political person" as far as I knew; I think it was just a rueful reflection on the times. --best regards DSatz (talk) 04:12, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

Re: Nomination Hearings[edit]

Per comments by Rkevins82 on my talk page. I entered an additional section pointing to the divergent meaning (or, at least, use) of the term "to Bork". See [3]. In justification of that addition, I would note that there are three competing definitions already present on the page: the article reads, "After Bork's confirmation hearing his name became shorthand for the rough treatment he received: to be borked is to have one's presidential appointment defeated in the Senate...The most famous (or infamous) use of the verb to bork occurred in July 1991...Florence Kennedy addressed the conference on the importance of defeating the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. She said, 'We're going to bork him'".
So, is "borking" a nominee giving "them" rough treatment, or is it defeating a President's nominee? And for that matter, who is "them" - the nominee? The President? Who was borked - Reagan, or Bork? This immediatley suggests two alternative definitions, although you could have a third if both of them were "borked". Another set of definitions springs up when we consider Kennedy's statement NOW were going to bork Justice Thomas - not only who is borked, but who borks them? Is to bork a nominee to slander them? Or, is to bork a President's nominee to defeat them - and if so, how could NOW accomplish this feat? Surely, if to be "borked" is "to have one's presidential appointment defeated in the Senate", the person who is borked is the President and the group doing the borking is the Senate. If that definition is correct, Kennedy is wrong - NOW has no power to bork Clarence Thomas. Or do they? The article also offers the competing definition that Bork's "name became shorthand for the rough treatment he received" - if this, alternative, definition of borking is accepted, then the person who is borked is the nominee, the groups doing the borking are various public interest groups, and NOW could indeed "bork" Clarence Thomas.
For the foregoing reasons, I believe that Rkevins82's revert was in error. Merely evaluating the section under the rubric of who did what to whom demonstrates that there is already conflict within the article, which must be resolved either by removal of all but one (arbitrarily selected) meaning (which is a bad choice), or an expansion to explain that the term is used in different ways (which was the text I previously offered). If the discussion on alternate meaning of the verb is inadequate, it should be modified, not removed. I respectfully dissent.Simon Dodd 17:11, 14 August 2005 (UTC)
While I appreciate that Simon Dodd has taken the dispute to the talk page, I still don't see where he is trying to go with his verbiage. Though Simon Dodd has pointed out differences in the use of the verb within the text of the article, none of the differences are so great that they would constitute multiple meanings. Looking at the proposed three meanings, I am unimpressed. Here they are, with my comments.
  • After Bork's confirmation hearing his name became shorthand for the rough treatment he received... - on an individual basis, this is what the verb is used as, reflecting the harsh treatment of an appointment in the hopes of defeating said person. However, it also has a wider application...
  • be borked is to have one's presidential appointment defeated in the Senate - this is a reflection of the individual application on the nominating president. The difference is not significant in that it is simply using the verb in the rich context that it came into being. Rightly or wrongly, Bork had a tough confirmation battle that ended in rejection. Bork and Reagan were both damaged from the hearings.
  • ...The most famous (or infamous) use of the verb to bork occurred in July 1991...Florence Kennedy addressed the conference on the importance of defeating the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. She said, 'We're going to bork him.' - this is the same as the NRA saying we're going to win passage of a bill. No, the NRA can't pass the bill itself, it needs Congress to take action and the President to sign it. But the NRA can signal its intent to put the resources of its group behind achieving that goal. Of course, NOW can do the same things in a nomination. They can't vote Thomas down, but they can help create an ugly confirmation fight (which they hoped) leading to defeat.
That said, I believe the definition should be clarified into something like this: "After Bork's confirmation hearing his name became shorthand for the rough treatment he received: to be defeated in the Senate after a hard-fought confirmation battle. The nomination is rejected, harming the nominee and appointing President." Rkevins82 22:48, 16 August 2005 (UTC)
With due respect to Rkevins82, his definition of the term "to bork" doesn't convey the sense of personal animus that mnay observers of the confirmation battle commented upon. You will recall that liberal groups opposed the confirmation of Judge Bork because they disagreed with his legal philosophy. At that time, this was an exotic reason for rejecting a nominee, so, to bolster their case against him, liberals sought to portray him as unqualified -- as too poor a lawyer to serve on the court. Now, Judge Bork is plainly innocent of such a charge, whatever you think of his philosophy. He was a federal judge for seven years, solicitor general for four plus, a professor at Yale for 25 yeaqrs, and he wrote a book that changed the way the nation -- left and right -- looked at antitrust law. Indeed, of the current Justices, the only one whose resume can compare is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Nevertheless, the supposedly non-partisan ABA issued a "not qualified" rating on his candidacy, which left many conservatives feeling as though they had suffered an outrage. (Also, this ABA rating was what crystalized public opinion against his nomination.)
Congressional democrats also distorted his views on the law, presenting him as a much more radical jurist than was in fact the case. Bork, for instance, favored overturning Roe v. Wade and returning discretion concerning abortion to the states. Liberals, however, represented him as desiring to ban abortions nationwide, regardless of the danger to the mother. This was, of course a distortion. Similarly, he believed that the federal government lacked the authority (under the Commerce clause) to enact civil rights legislation. Liberals distorted this position, and falsely claimed that he supported the reintroduction of Jim Crow laws.
Now it is perfectly reasonable to think that Judge Bork should not sit on the Supreme Court, for political reasons ("he;s just too conservative") or philosophical reasons (believing that, for instance, judicial minimalism or critical race theory are more correct approaches to Constitutional interpretation than Bork's version of originalism). Liberal activists will concede, however, that had Bork been given a fair hearing, been judged qualified by the ABA, and been allowed to explain his views, President Reagan's personal popularity was enough to guarantee Bork's confirmation. Therefore, they resorted to character assasination to defeat the nomination.
Liberals often claim that Judge Bork's nomination was defeated because he was extreme. This is plainly false. While Judge Bork may very well have held, and may very well now hold, extreme views on the law, those views were not a factor in public sentiment against him. In fact, the public turned against him after the poor report from the ABA, and after a then-unprecedented campaign by liberal groups to publicize caricatures of his views, and stick him with those caricatures. Ultimately, conservatives do not complain that Judge Bork was rejected because of his record; rather, they complain that he was rejected for reasons that have nothing to do with his record -- that is, because of lies.
This unprecedented, cynical destruction of a man's reputation is what left politicos searching for a new word to describe the process, and any definition of the term "to bork" must represent the callousness and opportunism that both parties understood it to involve. Therefore, I would define the term as follows: "To employ slander and methods of character assasination against a nominee to a non-political office, so as to engender public opposition to that nominee for reasons other than his record."

Innocent76 11:38, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

All of this I understand. The issue is trying to find a definition that covers the range of meanings and emotions. I am willing to discuss this further. Rkevins82 - TALK 00:00, 19 October 2005 (UTC)
Innocent76 is absolutely correct. "To campaign for defeat by attacking" doesn't begin to describe it, though it's certainly true that some liberals have tried to redefine it that way. Better is "to attack a nominee's reputation and views unfairly." -- FRCP11 19:39, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
Isn't the very question of fairness subjective? While many Wikipedians would agree that Bork was harassed and ultimately rejected without substantive grounds, many others would take the opposite side. My own views (and yours) are solely that. If you doubt my neutrality I invite you to read above where I defended against an attempt to redefine the verb in way not consistent with more widely accepted usage. Rkevins82 - TALK 22:02, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
Rkevins82, I assure you that I'm not challenging your good faith. I think one can objectively say that Kennedy's attack on Bork was unfair; I recognize others would disagree with me. But that's beside the point. Even if one believes that the fairness of the nomination process is inherently subjective, the debate here has nothing to do with whether the nomination process was fair, it has to do with the definition of the verb "to bork." Wikipedia is descriptive, not prescriptive. Most conservatives use the term "to bork" to mean "to attack a nominee's reputation and views unfairly." This narrower meaning of the term has gotten so much play that I haven't seen it used in any other sense in 2005. It's clear that people are going to attack Miers's confirmation, but no one is claiming that Miers is going to be borked. When the left decided to attack Roberts, no one on the left threatened to bork him, because they knew that that would be perceived as being unfair, because the majority understanding of the term is in the pejorative sense of acting unfairly. To include only the definition that reflects the failed attempt of some on the left to redefine the word is not only POV, but it makes the article less accurate. I'm not saying to ignore the controversy over the conservative definition of the term (Media Matters did an article on the subject complaining about the drift in meaning), but the article needs to reflect that that's how people understand the verb today, even if it may not have been how it was meant when it was first used. Again, I propose this definition on descriptive, not prescriptive, grounds. -- FRCP11 22:30, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

Watching the nomination consent procedings you could see that Bork was eminently qualified judiciously to serve on the supreme court, and the question arrose as to if the majority of senators liked his legitmate expressed views And in this context the diatribes of Kennedy and others before and during the hearings do not seem appropriate for Judge confirmation hearings. Unless, of course if you like rough and tumble politics as a means of settling all decisions.WFPMWFPM (talk) 01:33, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Bork borking?[edit]

Ironically, Robert H. Bork arguably borked judicial nominee Harriet Mier in an October 19, 2005 Wall Street Journal editorial where he states she lacks "the basic skills of persuasive argument and clear writing", is without "philosophy of judging", and "demonstrates absolutely no ability to write clearly and argue incisively." [3] 14:56, 20 October 2005 (UTC) antoniosfca 10/20/05 Antoniosfca 15:59, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

I tried to be consistent with the definition currently listed as "to destroy a judicial nominee through a concerted attack on his character, background and philosophy." [1]

The definition does not identify, therefore not limit, who may 'bork'. Also although Robert H Bork may not be able to "destroy a judicial nominee" unilaterally, perhaps merely adding to the dialogue an opinion that may appear as an "attack on his character, background and philosophy" may be construed as 'borking'. My first entry to wikipedia, I hope my entry is consistent with the spirit and quality of this article to date. 14:56, 20 October 2005 (UTC) antoniosfca 10/20/05 Antoniosfca 15:59, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

William Safire's notes[edit]

The section on Borking starts with this sentence: According to columnist William Safire, the first published use of bork as a verb was possibly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of August 20, 1987. Safire defines to bork by reference "to the way Democrats savaged Ronald Reagan's nominee, the Appeals Court judge Robert H. Bork, the year before." There's a mismatch here between the date given, and the final phrase the year before. Bork's nomination and rejection took place in 1987, so the Democrats didn't attack him "the year before" 1987. In fact, this date is two months before he was even rejected. I don't know if Safire is being quoted incorrectly or if he got his description wrong, but somebody with access to the source should check this out. —MiguelMunoz (talk) 00:43, 23 February 2016 (UTC)

I noticed this too. I went to look up the 2001 article by William Safire supposedly in the NYTimes, but it was really in the Houston Chronicle, at least originally. From ProQuest Direct: "Bork attacks court controversy." SAFIRE, WILLIAM. Houston Chronicle [Houston, Tex] 27 May 2001: 6. The Abstract reads: "Republicans are countering with the eponymous verb possibly first used in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Aug. 20, 1987: "Let's just hope something enduring results for the justice-to-be, like a new verb: Borked. Dictionaries will say it's synonymous with `maligned.' " This referred to the way Democrats savaged Ronald Reagan's nominee, Appeals Court Judge Robert H. Bork, the year before.
"A concerted effort to Bork John Ashcroft would not be well- received," said Sen. Trent Lott, the majority leader, about [George W. Bush]'s nomination for attorney general. The newly nonconfrontational Ashcroft was not borked. (I use the lower-case b now that the verb is established, but then I lower-case draconian and stentorian, over the objections of the strict solon Draco and the Greek herald with the booming voice, Stentor.)"
Clearly, this is an error by Safire in the original text. In one sentence, he quotes the Atlanta J-C saying "justice-to-be" in 1987, when Bork hadn't even gone before the Senate yet (Aug 20, 1987 - apparently that date IS correct). In the very next sentence, Safire says they "savaged" Bork "the year before."
How to fix this in the Wikipedia entry? I'm not sure of the best way. I'll try to confirm the AJC article quote, but since it's the late '80s, it might not be on ProQuest. Assuming the AJC quote is correct, the Wiki entry needs to be fixed somehow. I'm very new to Wikipedia editing; mainly I've made minor corrections to grammar, style, etc. Thanks for seeing this, Miguel - it jumped out at me too right away! The same problem exists in the article: "Robert Bork Supreme Court Nomination". Thanks again, and this is my first real TALK comment - I hope I'm doing this right!--BetseyTrotwood (talk) 07:08, 21 March 2016 (UTC)
I am adding an addendum here re: trying to look up the AJC reference. I couldn't find it on ProQuest. Their earliest refs seem to go back to Oct 1987, and those are not for AJC - those seem to start only in the late '90s. I'm pretty sure Safire quoted the AJC correctly but just had a brain fart in the next sentence. (Excuse my French.)
In the new search, though, I did find that this article by Safire WAS published in the NY Times Magazine (the Houston News article was probably a same-day "reprint"). Here's the reference information: "Judge fights." Safire, William. New York Times Magazine (May 27, 2001): 6.12. The full-text is given by ProQuest and once again, this paragraph appears: "Republicans are countering with the eponymous verb possibly first used in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Aug. 20, 1987: "Let's just hope something enduring results for the justice-to-be, like a new verb: Borked. Dictionaries will say it's synonymous with `maligned.'" This referred to the way Democrats savaged Ronald Reagan's nominee, the Appeals Court judge Robert H. Bork, the year before."--BetseyTrotwood (talk) 07:26, 21 March 2016 (UTC)

Links to Usage Examples and Articles[edit]

This section added to see examples and articles discussing its use. Also started off with some examples. 21:08, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

  • Not for examples of people who are or seem to be borking

Usage Examples[edit]

Examples where the term "Bork" is explicitly used as verb

"'Borking' of nominees"

"To Bork or to be Borked has become part of the American political lexicon, meaning to have your political enemies to attempt to destroy you personally simply to score political points."

"Part II: The Borking of Charles Pickering Alliance Activists Made Unfounded Racist Claims to Defeat Well-Qualified Judge"

"The 'borking' of Charles Pickering sadly stands as yet another example of how activist groups can derail the career of individuals who are eminently qualified to serve on the federal courts."

"He was 'Borked' because he was not afraid to provide truthful answers about his personal beliefs even though those beliefs would have no role in his work. Mr. Buttiglione was Borked because faith in Europe is only acceptable if it is politically correct." (European usage)

"... we sacrifice committed and worthy public servants if we allow witch hunts and Borking in the confirmation process." (European usage)

"...we’ll end up with another Borking episode, or even another personal attack from the left as happened with Clarence Thomas."

"... no more 'Borking,' no more liberal lies."

"Your Senators NEED to see how much support there is in the heartland of America for a strong conservative judicial nominee, so that Judge Roberts isn’t 'Borked.'”

"The left is desperate and is field-testing its radical tactics for 'Borking' a nominee so thoroughly that the nomination is doomed.",+OR+borked+filetype:pdf&hl=en&lr=lang_en

"[Daniel Pipes, a columnist] takes pride in being ... Borked by Edward Kennedy."

"groups ... say "we're going to Bork him." ... nothing short of character assassination; or ... the politics of personal destruction."

' "Maybe it will be Bork Borking [Miers]. ... calling her "a disaster on every level" and "a slap in the face" to conservatives. ... "no experience with constitutional law whatever," that it was wrong for W. to choose a justice simply to have a woman's perspective, and that conservative reaction veered between "disapproval and outrage"'


Articles discussing the use of the term "Bork" as a verb .

Article links from added without distinguishing if they can or should be listed under examples section above. (No time at the moment). 00:56, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

These articles actually prove my point about the descriptive definition of "borking": if "borking" weren't being used to describe unfair attacks, there wouldn't need to be an extensive David Brock campaign to defend the attacks on Bork as not unfair. -- FRCP11 00:59, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Other uses?[edit]

I was not aware of this as the origin of the terms 'bork' (and it's past participle 'borked') Instead I was under the impression that it related to something being broken or non-functional possibly as a result of action from a separate party - e.g. "That latest upgrade totally borked my PC!", so does the term in that context have a connection to this topic, or it is perhaps an anagram of the almost word "broked"? SlySven (talk) 23:27, 28 May 2017 (UTC)

Confirmation transcripts link[edit]

Does anyone have a link to the Bork confirmation hearing transcripts? Mirror Vax 14:19, 25 July 2005 (UTC) as of today's date 15:05, 20 October 2005 (UTC) antoniosfca Antoniosfca 16:00, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

Thank you! Mirror Vax 13:30, 21 October 2005 (UTC)

Video rentals[edit]

It might be worth clarifying the details about the subpoena, since there is a widespread "urban legend" about this: (fairness and accuracy in reporting website)

its really unclear in this article WHY they were supoenaed and leaked, why it was controversial, how it was supposted to be problematic for him (the titles listed here are not exactly dangerous movies)

It doesn't say if the video rental records were supoenaed; it is possible the press went to the video store owner and asked for his rental history. It was controversial because the movies _could_ have been dangerous; obviously the people who went after his rental history were hoping to find porn. Rast 01:49, 17 September 2005 (UTC)
So why are his movies cited as being "dramatic"? It seems like a non event to me. user:J.J.


I don't know anything about Bork, but from this article I am left with the impression that he is racist. Isn't opposing the civil rights movement considered very controversial and racist today? Why would more than 40 senators vote for someone like that onto the Supreme Court? Or does he believe that whites should have given blacks rights on their own and not been forced to (because it is nowhere in the constitution)? 23:38, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

The problem with charges of this sort can be confusion over a judicially constrained originalism. Strict interpretation of the constitution provides that desirable laws may be unconstitutional while undesirable laws may be constitutional -- with desirability subjective. Constitutional review of laws must be concerned with the process and framework rather than the immediate result. The legislature's concern is the immediate result. If the court determines that the constitution constrains the legislature, the legislature is free to change the framework, that is, amend the constitution. Consider the following explications from the Miers's debacle:
"Miers's advocates tried the incense defense: Miers is pious. But that is irrelevant to her aptitude for constitutional reasoning. The crude people who crudely invoked it probably were sending a crude signal to conservatives who, the invokers evidently believe, are so crudely obsessed with abortion that they have an anti-constitutional willingness to overturn Roe v. Wade with an unreasoned act of judicial willfulness as raw as the 1973 decision itself.
In their unseemly eagerness to assure Miers's conservative detractors that she will reach the "right" results, her advocates betray complete incomprehension of this: Thoughtful conservatives' highest aim is not to achieve this or that particular outcome concerning this or that controversy. Rather, their aim for the Supreme Court is to replace semi-legislative reasoning with genuine constitutional reasoning about the Constitution's meaning as derived from close consideration of its text and structure. Such conservatives understand that how you get to a result is as important as the result. Indeed, in an important sense, the path that the Supreme Court takes to the result often is the result." Will, Washington Post, October 23, 2005
"For half a century, liberals have corrupted the courts by turning them into an instrument of radical social change on questions -- school prayer, abortion, busing, the death penalty -- that properly belong to the elected branches of government. Conservatives have opposed this arrogation of the legislative role and called for restoration of the purely interpretive role of the court." Krauthammer, Washington Post, October 7, 2005

...I dont think it's fair to call him a racist. He thinks that the Warren Courts rulings on race were shoddily done. He has also written a mock ruling that would have given the same benifits as Brown v. Board, but follows a more strict constitutional interpretaion. I think it's more fair to say that he wants racial integration, but not by fiat, rather by changing law. 18:58, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

Saturday Night Massacre[edit]

The article suggests that Bork intended to refuse Nixon's order to fire Cox, and intended to resign, but was persuaded by Richardson to stay on for the good of the department. That's not quite was Sussman wrote in the Great Cover-Up: "Bork... had told them that someone would certainly eventually be found to fire Cox, so he would do it and then resign. Richardson suggested that Bork fire Cox and stay on, as someone was needed to run the shop." And that's hardly the only diverging opinion on what exactly Bork said and thought at the time. I'd like to suggest that a little more work be put into that one. 21:24, 19 October 2005 (UTC)

Saturday Night Massacre - Part 2[edit]

According to Saturday Night Massacre Bork was "Solicitor General" when firing Cox. But according to this article he was "acting Attorney General". Can someone clarify?

At the time Cox was a special counsel, whose duties fell under the jurisdiction of the Dept. of Justice.

As far as I know only the Attorney General-or in Bork's case, the acting Attorney General-had the capacity to fire him, although I could be mistaken.

Here's a link, which might clarify the details of that evening's events:

Ruthfulbarbarity 10:08, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

There didn't seem to be any discussion in the article about the "Saturday Night Massacre" about the contoversy over what Bork actually said or did. Is there an article where that's discussed outside of what's in this one? In any event, I think it should hardly be surprising that opponents of Bork when he was later nominated to the Supreme Court did not think of him fondly, whether that was justified or not. -Andy

Current Bork Activities[edit]

I am an employee at Ave Maria School of Law in Ann Arbor, MI and it appears that Bork now is a faculty member here.

I was a student at the University of Richmond School of Law in Richmond, Virginia. I can confirm he visited in fall of 2004. He co-taught a constitutional law course I was enrolled in with the dean of the law school. Erechtheus 23:59, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

National Review article[edit]

The National Review article, at least the excerpt quoted at Reason magazine, advocates not just that the Supreme Court should allow censorship, but that legislatures should enact it. Unless User:Rkevins82 has access to the text of the article and can cite a quote to the opposite effect, I suggest we revert the first sentence to what it was before: In December 2005, Bork wrote an article in the periodical National Review calling for government censorship of popular culture, including television, film and music. since it's a stronger claim. Grover cleveland 08:25, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

I don't know why we would desire the stronger claim, a priori, when it doesn't seem as though you've read the article. I have access and have quoted from it. If more is desired I will find a way to share it. Rkevins82 22:52, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
Trying to keep in line with copyright law, I present the closing paragraph: " Much, perhaps most, of this is caused by the Supreme Court’s embrace of the liberationist philosophy. As Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in dissent, “Day by day, case by case, [the Supreme Court] is busy designing a Constitution for a country I do not recognize.” It is past time that a Court be selected that will allow the re-erection of the walls that make liberty possible. " Rkevins82 02:30, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

"'Luke, I'm your father" imitation at Signatures restaurant[edit]

An article in the GWU student newspaper Hatchet, claimed Robert Bork delivered a remarkably good imitation of Darth Vader at a Project for a New American Century dinner in October 2005 at Signatures restaurant in DC. The article claims a student working as a waiter heard the self-effacing Bork say "Luke, I am your father" to Lewis "Scooter'" Libby and received applause from Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and Zalmay Khalilzad. Robert Bork has a warm and funny side, I'd love to see this article reflect at least a little of that. 23:06, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

The Bork Darth Vadar impersonation story was on NPR last winter. Pretty funny. Probably not needed on his wiki aticle though. CApitol3 18:44, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

Supreme Court nominees who were never confirmed to the seat[edit]

WP:NOT#CHAT, WP:TALK 18:04, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

I was surprised to see no reference to a list of Supreme Court nominees whose appointments were subsequently rejected by the Senate or, further, whose nominations were withdrawn in the face of obvious issues of disqualifications or lack of qualifications.

Maybe we need to start a list of those S.C. rejects, perhaps including a list of nominees whose appointments were confirmed but who, in retrospect, were mistakes. (A nominally subjective assessment, admittedly.) To me, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and perhaps Antonin Kennedy would qualify

Ahh, but there's the rub. To lefties like YOU, Thomas, Alito, etc. qualify as SC mistakes...but to many others, like ME, radical socialist judges like Ruth B. Ginsburg and David Souter were/are abominations to the court, preaching an outdated, anti-Constitutional and activist-statist view on the courts and worsening America for it. A list of "worst SC appointees" would, by it's very definition, be NPOV, and therefore completely unsuitable to Wikipedia.


—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 08:20, 13 February 2007 (UTC).

Agree. A list of rejected SC nominees is an interesting idea, but there is no way we can have a list of "mistakes on the Court" without it being someone's POV. 21:43, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

The suggestion that Ruth Bader Ginsberg and David Souter are somehow "radical socialists" made me laugh harder than I had in awhile. -- 18:00, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

June 7 Libby brief[edit]

Chris: first of all, by itself, your personal opinion of John Dean is not a valid argument against using his FindLaw column as a source. Further, even if he is "no longer" a conservative, that doesn't automatically make him suspect - except in your personal opinion, which is irrelevant. However, it's now sourced by Time Magazine, so I would appreciate it if you would stop breaking wiki policy and stop reverting - you're now at the "edit war" limit, I believe. If you have any more comments about this factual quote of Judge Walton's, you should discuss them here, and not "protect" your hero by removing all possible facts that may be perceived as criticism. Info999 07:22, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

Response from CWC:
  1. My "personal opinion of Dean" is indeed irrelevant to whether that column is a WP:RS: it isn't. It's an opinion column, not a news report, and it relies completely on firedoglake for that quote. (I only mentioned that he's now anti-conservative because of Info999 claimed Dean was "a conservative former WH Counsel" in this edit summary.)
  2. Removing WP:BLP violations like this one do not count against the WP:3RR limit.
  3. I neither know nor care much about Judge Bork; I do care about WP:BLP.
  4. A Time magazine item? Now we're in business. Where is it? (As I said at User talk:Info999, a source like Time can be used — if it passes WP:UNDUE and a bunch of other rules.)
  5. This is a good chance to apologize for calling firedoglake "notorious", I got it mixed up with another left-wing blog. Several conservative bloggers I respect have strongly praised Jane Hamsher. (But that doesn't make their liveblog into a WP:RS.)
Cheers, CWC 11:00, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
If the items in fact do not violate WP:BLP, or if whether or not they do is in doubt, then reverting instead of discussing is inappropriate, and you have violated the policy. You don't get to be the sole arbiter when a good faith challenge arises; that's why the policy against the kind of inappropriate reverting that you're in fact doing exists. That's why we discuss before we revert.
You are being disingenuous; I referenced the TIME Magazine item in my last edit, and yet you still inappropriately reverted it. The item is sourced (secondarily, by the way) by an internationally-recognized news organization, TIME Magazine. It was sourced and you reverted anyway.
(By the way, your characterization of Dean is not only factually incorrect, it's POV, and isn't relevant. Dean was and is a self-identified conservative, and merely (and factually, and accurately) criticizes those who purport to "lead" the conservative movement in the United States for having abandoned conservative principles. The only people who view Dean as "attacking" conservatives and being "anti-conservative" are those guilty of the very hypocrisy Dean details in his accounts.)

Info999 14:17, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

Uh, no. WP:BLP says "when in doubt, delete".
I somehow missed the TIME url. (Do-oh!) I apologize.
But Wonkette's new blog is not in the slightest degree acceptable as a WP:RS. Nor is the blog she links to. That her current blog is hosted by makes no difference.
If you want to take this any further, Info999, please make a report at BLP Noticeboard.
(Further reading for third parties: User talk:Info999#Warnings and User talk:Chris Chittleborough#Bork.) CWC 15:15, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Whether or not a particular person's column, article or blog is personally acceptable to you, the question is whether or not the publishing organization is acceptable - and not to you, but to wiki policy. Time publishes the blog, and Time is responsible for its content. Time is acceptable under wiki policy. In any case, this is not "wonkette" - it's a blog written by many reporters and editors at Time; this particular entry was written by the Washington Editor of If we start to get into personal opinions of individual reporters and editors, policing wiki will be more arduous than it already is.
Further, this item is sourced all over the web (Washington Post, NYTimes, WSJ, and on), including "conservative" web sites (which should make you happy as a clam, right? Wait - they verify the accuracy of the Walton quote, so I guess not). See WSJ[4] and NYT[5] and WSJ again [6] and Washington Post[7] and NY Sun[8] to name just a few.
I think given your actions, you might want to be the one to put this quote back into the article, selecting any one of the reliable sources listed above. No? Info999 15:39, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for that. Unfortunately, links which require "Times Select" or WSJ subscriptions are not that useful. Dorothy Rabinowitz's article is available for free here. The original WaPo report is here. The NY Sun story starts here.
Let's go with the WaPo version, and agree that Judge Walton said "The submission was not something I would expect from a first-year law student."
(But the blog-sourced version was "With all due respect, these are intelligent people, but I would not accept this brief from a first year law student. I believe this was put out to put pressure on this court in the public sphere to rule as you wish." Moreover, none of the RSes contain the phrases "intelligent people" or "put pressure".)
So Judge Walton insulted 12 law profs, including Alan Dershowitz and Judge Bork. Does that make the insult notable as far as this article is concerned? I don't know. For instance, it would matter if Bork was the main author.
Rabinowitz seems to be saying Walton is playing a populist card; that concerns me a little.
Info999, Wikipedia's rules require someone who wants to put something controversial in a BLP article to justify it. If you still think Walton's quote(s) should be mentioned in this article, please explain why it meets Wikipedia's rules, and we can ask someone from the BLP noticeboard to take a look. Cheers, CWC 13:04, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

controversial figure[edit]

This article seems to desperately avoid using the words controversial figure. Whatever your opinion of the man, he is the definition of a controversial figure. I am going to add this to the intro.

Yale Club lawsuit[edit]

No one is going to remember the Yale Club lawsuit a dozen years from now. The discussion is decidedly unencyclopedic, of questionable notability, and violates WP:WEIGHT. I'd remove it myself, but whichever editor added the paragraph quoted me on the subject, so I raise on the talk page first pursuant to WP:SCOIC. THF 14:39, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

Possibly. However Bloomberg has some interesting quotes from earlier in his career [9]. If you are concerned you could try a content RFC or request for third opinion. Thatcher131 03:06, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
It's completely relevant, received a good deal of media coverage, and it's not up to us to look into our CRYSTAL ball and decide what will be remembered in 12 years. Should never have been removed. --David Shankbone 03:18, 14 November 2007 (UTC)


The article misrepresents Bork's reasoning in Dronenburg. (talk) 19:56, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

I disagree. It is fair to say that his opinion "criticize[s]" the Court's privacy cases. See Dronenburg v. Zech, 741 F.2d 1388, 1392 (D.C. Cir. 1984) ("It was not explained [in Griswold] how areas not lying within any 'penumbra' or 'zone of privacy' became part of a more general 'right of privacy. . . .'"); id. ("[Griswold] did not indicate what other activities might be protected by the new right of privacy and did not provide any guidance for reasoning about future claims laid under that right."); id. at 1395 ("Aside from listing prior holdings, the Court [in Roe v. Wade] provided no explanatory principle that informs a lower court how to reason about what is and what is not encompassed by the right of privacy."); id. at 1396 (noting that the Court's privacy right "formulations are not particularly helpful to us").

yale case[edit]

I just want to correct an error - My name is Cricket Farnsworth and I have nothing to do with the Yale Club - the article says I am the office manager there. i in fact work for the magazine that was holding the event. (i have no idea how to edit the page, or the time to learn how right now)Cricketfar (talk) 23:02, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Bot-created subpage[edit]

A temporary subpage at User:Polbot/fjc/Robert Heron Bork was automatically created by a perl script, based on this article at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. The subpage should either be merged into this article, or moved and disambiguated. Polbot (talk) 16:07, 4 March 2009 (UTC)

Problems with Bork's Originalism[edit]

I added this section to explain why people like the National Organization for Women or other groups who opposed Bork's nomination would object. Also wanted to shed light on the fact that originalism or what conservatives would call "judicial activism" are choices that judges make. There are serious constitutional conflicts that stem from which interpretive rubrics the justices use to resolve constitutional questions. Some do believe that the extra-textual searching that originalists do is more legitimate than other approaches. This really opens a can of worms, however. It is possible that certain founders intended something that is completely at odds with the texts as written. One has to ask what the purpose of drafting and ratifying is. If the text itself doesn't have some elevated status above the separate thoughts and feelings of the drafters, then actually what we have is a constitution that is the combined works and recorded thoughts of the founders on the Constitution and all of its amendments. And one has no guidance about where to stop. In interpreting the First Amendment, do Madison's pre-war views on newspapers come into play? Views five years before the drafting? One year? If taken in its broadest sense, originalists could be combing through any recorded record of any of the drafters to determine their attitudes towards rights and constitutional provisions. And what if a drafter changed views several times? The Founders surely could not have intended that judges be required to dig through mountains of public and private writings to interpret the Constitution. If that were the case, the founders would have passed no constitution at all, but instead judges would infer everything the constitution represents through the collected writings and speeches of a select group of all-important people (the founders).

The actual words of the Constitution are only a tiny fraction of what originalists consider, and are only relevant to the extent that some founder or other talked about them separately. Practically speaking, that is what originalism represents. Any originalist has to grapple with these issues, and that is why a section on the problems with originalism is apropos here. --MoebiusFlip (talk) 11:08, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

A few comments here. First, Thomas Jefferson wrote

Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the Covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment... laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind... as that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, institutions must advance also, to keep pace with the times.... We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain forever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

Second, all too often, "judicial activism" means "a judge made a decision that I disagree with".

Third, I direct you to the Supreme Court decision of Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1 (2005), which was about a woman in California who was growing marijuana for medicinal uses, which was legal under California law, but illegal under Federal law. She was not selling it, nor was she even giving it away, nor was it taken out of California. Antonin Scalia wrote an opinion against Raich, basing it on the Commerce Clause. Clarence Thomas dissented, saying

Respondent's local cultivation and consumption of marijuana is not "Commerce ... among the several States." Certainly no evidence from the founding suggests that "commerce" included the mere possession of a good or some personal activity that did not involve trade or exchange for value. In the early days of the Republic, it would have been unthinkable that Congress could prohibit the local cultivation, possession, and consumption of marijuana.

JHobson2 (talk) 14:49, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

1971 Indiana Law Review article[edit]

This article should definitely mention Bork's 1971 article in the Indiana Law Review titled "Neutral Principles and Some First Amendment Problems". The Nation magazine picked up on this several years before Bork was nominated, and a pre-existing distaste for the conclusions of this article by a number of influential liberals was one of the main reasons why an instant firestorm of disapproval sprung up as soon as his name was revealed for the court nomination. While casting aspersions on Brown vs. Board of Education and Roe vs. Wade certainly didn't score any points with lefties, there was also a more basic disquiet with Bork's views on the first amendment revealed in the 1971 article. His statements that there was no right to freedom of artistic speech, only to freedom of speech for political purposes convinced many that Bork was eagerly itching to destroy significant parts of commonly-understood 1st amendment rights and protections. If Bork had firmly repudiated and apologized for the 1971 law journal article, then there was a significant chance that he might have been confirmed... AnonMoos (talk) 19:39, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

The Nation article by Jamie Kalven was published October 1, 1983, almost four years before his Supreme Court nomination: [10], [11] . This link seems to be the text of the article (though not labelled as such): [12] -- AnonMoos (talk) 14:20, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

Ninth Amendment[edit]

Why does this article not include any mention of his flippant (inkblot) view of the Ninth Amendment? That was one of his most controversial statements. It belongs here.-- (talk) 11:35, 12 January 2010 (UTC)


I removed Bork from the University of Chicago alumni category. The University of Chicago Law School alumni category is a subcategory, therefore he should only be there and not in the parent category. The fact that he also is an undergrad alumni of the University of Chicago is not relevant.

People should be placed in the most relvenant category, and not in multiple ones. Thus, we put a person in American Roman Catholic priests and not also in American Roman Catholics. In virtually all cases they were an American Roman Catholic before they were a priest, and some may have been notable Catholics before they were priests, but we only put people in the most relevant categories.

If Bork had got his bachelors degree from the University of Chicago College of Social Sicences, and if there was a category for alumni of this college, we could put him in both that category and the Law School category, but as long as one category is the sub-category of another category used the article should be placed in only the most specific category.John Pack Lambert (talk) 02:29, 3 August 2010 (UTC)

Why isn't there a mention of his leftist politics in his youth?[edit]

Why doesn't this article mention that he was a socialist in his youth? It seems to me that at one time it did, but evidently someone with a POV removed it because maybe they found it embarassing? Here's a decent source [13] (I believe) if anyone wishes to work this into the article. Shanoman (talk) 07:56, 17 August 2010 (UTC) Most people are leftist in their youth. Most of us smarten up before we hit 30. (talk) 00:07, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

Romney endorsements need a citation[edit]

I know he endorsed him the first time around, but it still needs a citation, and it also needs one if he reiterated his endorsement. J390 (talk) 00:41, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

Dead?[edit] (talk) 14:15, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

I can only find one source (talk) 14:15, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

Well it hit HuffPost and NRO (talk) 14:35, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

Why does it say suicide in the article. There is not mention of suicide in the articles I've seen. Sille714 (talk) 15:16, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

Bork Portrait that may be of use for this article[edit] I am starting to upload a portrait collection for the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, including that one of Bork. Linking it here in case anybody cares to use it in the article. Safiel (talk) 02:00, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

Justice Powell No "Moderate"[edit]

The article asserts that Justice Powell was a “moderate.” He most certainly was not. He once expressed the view that a woman who had been raped by a burglar while her husband was in the house had not “sustained serious or lasting injury.” See Coker v. Georgia, 433 U.S. 584, 601 (1977) (Powell, J., concurring and dissenting).John Paul Parks (talk) 18:17, 10 July 2013 (UTC)

He was relatively moderate, certainly compared to Bork. My recollection is that even Kennedy was seen as a step to the right at the time. Powell would have been the most conservative member of the Warren court, perhaps, but he was more or less in the middle on the Burger court (at the time of his retirement, Scalia, Rehnquist, and O'Connor were seen as being to his right, and Marshall, Brennan, Blackmun, and Stevens to his left, with White to his right on some issues and to his left on others. john k (talk) 00:48, 6 April 2017 (UTC)

Bork "may well have been correct"[edit]

Why is this the only judgment on the accuracy of Kennedy's comments? I mean, it's a judgment call, but Kennedy wasn't just pulling that stuff out of nowhere - they were uncharitable characterizations based on Bork's actual record. Here's Dave Weigel (who is not particularly liberal) on the subject from around the same time. john k (talk) 00:45, 6 April 2017 (UTC)