Judge Robert Bork (shown alone and with Ronald Reagan in photo), a conservative federal judge whose commitment to a strict interpretation of the Constitution made him a hero of conservatives but cost him a likely seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, died December 19 at his home in Virginia. He was 85.
Bork, who most recently had served as a legal advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was most well known as President Ronald Reagan's 1987 Supreme Court nominee, a selection who was successfully opposed by Senate Democrats coached by leftist groups who feared Bork's conservative views and “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution. Reading from those utra-liberal talking points, U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy warned at the time that “Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, and schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution.” Were Judge Bork to take a seat on the High Court, Kennedy warned, “the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens.”
Born in Pittsburgh in 1927, Bork graduated from the University of Chicago School of Law, served in the Marine Corps, had a private law practice, and taught at Yale Law School before joining the Nixon administration's Justice Department in 1973 during the heat of Watergate. It was as a solicitor general that Bork “first gained notoriety for carrying out the president's order to fire the special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal,” reported CNN in its obituary of Bork. “When Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy William Ruckelshaus abruptly resigned rather than carry out orders to dismiss special prosecutor Archibald Cox,” continued CNN, “Bork stepped in and carried out Nixon's demands. He was criticized for bowing to political pressure but remained on the job. Nixon resigned a year later.”
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