How Bork’s 1987 Nomination Muted Supreme Court Nomination Hearings | Retro Report


There is no one in America more qualified
for this position and no one more deserving. I will keep an open mind in every case. With confirmation hearings set to begin for
Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, liberal activists worry that
Kavanaugh’s conservative views could mean the court overturns legal precedence like
the right to abortion and gay marriage. But this isn’t the first time the country
has faced the prospect of contentious Supreme Court hearings. Thirty years ago, the bitter battle over whether
to confirm Judge Robert Bork gripped the nation. In the confirmation process, it cannot be
the case that anything goes to win the battle. What was behind Bork’s defeat? And how did his hearings change the way Supreme
Court justices are confirmed today? You may be seated. I today announce my intention to nominate
United States Court of Appeals Judge Robert H. Bork to be an Associate Justice of the
Supreme Court. In 1987, President Reagan had a unique opportunity,
one that hadn’t occurred in decades, to move the balance of votes on the Supreme Court
in a decidedly conservative direction. Republicans were losing fights on school prayer
and school busing and abortion in the Congress, and they wanted to win these fights in the
Supreme Court. As his nominee, Reagan picked a respected
jurist who adhered to a rigid interpretation of the Constitution, which led him to voice
controversial opinions on social issues. My opinion is that there are too many laws
in this country and that we are redressing too many petty grievances. Democrats saw Judge Bork as someone who would
turn back the clock on established individual and civil rights. The constitution says the United States Senate
has as much responsibility in determining who’s on the court as the President does. That’s what this is about. Hearing will come to order please. Day one of Robert Bork’s confirmation hearings
started off with liberal guns blazing. The President has sought to appoint an activist
of the right whose agenda whose agenda would turn us back to the battles of a bitterly
divided America. Kennedy created kind of a fiendish picture
of Robert Bork. In Robert Bork’s America there is no room
at the inn for blacks and no place in the Constitution for women and in our America,
there should be no seat on the Supreme Court for Robert Bork. He gave a very tough speech taking every one
of Bork’s positions and taking it to its most extreme logical conclusion. Even before the hearings began liberal groups
launched an unprecedented campaign– taking out newspaper and television ads attacking
Bork’s record. With respect to Robert Bork, our rights would
be less secure. Robert Bork wants to be a Supreme Court Justice
but the record shows he has a strange idea of what justice is. That tradition of Supreme Court nominees had
been sort of a genteel one. The Democrats had different plans, so they,
I think, blew up the playbook that had existed for decades before that. You said there is no existing opinion, there
certainly is. There is not, that is a vacated opinion, Senator. Bork’s testimony was televised live for
five days and the exchanges grew increasingly combative. But the opinion is there. Well it’s in print. It has been declared to have no legal force
or effect whatsoever. And Bork kind of looked funny. He had a goatee. And then he said some things that people thought,
they were very Bork. As you may have noticed in these hearings
I’ve been taking unpopular positions frequently in my life. He liked to be controversial. So, he was asked, why do you want to be a
Supreme Court Justice? I think it would be an intellectual feast
just to be there and read the briefs. Nobody who is politically astute would say
something silly like that. He did. And, of course, it made him appear to be,
sort of, an oddity. But it, it played into the hands of those
who were trying to defeat him. But, at the heart of the hearings were Bork’s
controversial early writings. He had condemned a landmark civil rights law
as – quote – unsurpassed ugliness and disagreed that the Constitution protected gender equality,
the right to privacy and abortion. Because neither is mentioned in the Constitution, right? Well neither is mentioned. All that means is that the judge may not choose. Bork insisted that many of his opinions had
changed. But Democrats were not buying it. You have stated views time again that would
reverse progress for blacks, that would slam the door on women, that would allow government
in the bedroom, that would limit free speech, that would undercut the principle of equality
under the law. I can’t say this enough times. You know, beginning with Brown v. Board of
Education I have supported black equality. And I have done that in print long before
I got here. I have never said anything or decided anything
that should be frightening to women. You’re undoubtedly correct, Senator, that
there are women who are apprehensive. I think it can only be because they do not
know my record. And, I regret to say, I think there is no
basis for the charges you have leveled at me. He didn’t just give neutral, sort of, fluffy
answers to the questions. He actually engaged in this sort of dialogue
with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But it seems like every time he opened his
mouth and was combative, it helped the Democrats prove their case. With his nomination to the Supreme Court in
deep, deep trouble. Let us insist that the Senate not give in
to noisy, strident pressures and that elected officials not be swayed by a deliberate campaign
of disinformation and distortion. On the day of the Bork confirmation vote,
Senator John Danforth voiced the fury that many of his Republican colleagues were feeling. The man’s been trashed in our house. Some
of us helped generate the trashing. Others of us yielded to it. But all of us, myself included, all of us
have been accomplices to it. Robert Bork was the beginning of the politicization
of the Supreme Court. This is political. We’ve got to win the battle. And if it takes destroying this decent human
being to win the battle, so be it. The Robert Bork nomination ended today. The Yeas are 42, the Nays are 58. The nomination is not confirmed. And it wasn’t long before Bork’s name
became synonymous with vilification of a nominee for public office. I don’t know that anyone has been Borked
the way Bork was Borked since that, but it’s clearly part of the lexicon. Judge Thomas is not only being Borked, but
he’s giving new meaning to the term being Borked. What did Judge Bork go through. The little thing called Borking – his name
is now a verb. You’re familiar with the verb to be Borked. I’ve heard it here and there. And I must say to have your name become a
verb is one form of immortality. Ironically, three decades later, some legal
experts see the Bork hearings as a model for how the judicial nomination process should
work. The Reagan Administration pitched this one
candidate, Robert Bork. The Senate said, no, it’s not going to
work. We, we want somebody a little bit more moderate. And they ended up with Justice Anthony Kennedy. His views of the Constitution have been pretty
much along the lines of what popular expression has been in the 30 years that he’s been
on the Court. So you can argue that even though it was bad
news for Robert Bork, what happened for the country in the process of selecting a Supreme
Court nominee was exactly the way it’s supposed to work. Judge Bork, I think this is important. The interesting thing is it had exactly the
conversation that one would want about a nominee to the Supreme Court. It was a full and open discussion in which
the candidate participated about his judicial philosophy. We haven’t had that since Bork. The sad lesson of the Bork story is it taught
future nominees You may be seated. That the only way you’re going to get to
this cherished position that you’ve, maybe, worked your whole life for, is to not be candid,
so they evade. I don’t think I could answer that. I would prefer to await the particular case. I can’t prejudge that litigation. They obfuscate. Senator, I can’t answer that question in
the abstract. They basically plead the Fifth. That means you’re not going to tell us. And the American people don’t get a clear
sense of where they really stand. So you’ve told me nothing Judge. With all due respect…you’ve not, look,
this is – it’s kind of interesting this kabuki dance we have in these hearings here. At the end of the day, you know, they’re
still, sort of, blank slates. That’s why some people were shocked by the
Chief Justice’s vote in the Affordable Care Act case where he sort of switched. That’s why some people have been shocked
by Justice Kennedy’s embrace of the gay rights cases. Justice Kennedy devoted his career to securing
liberty. I am deeply honored to be nominated to fill
his seat on the Supreme Court. At his confirmation hearings, Judge Brett
Kavanaugh is expected to be just as cautious as past nominees in answering questions from
the senators who will decide his fate.

60 thoughts on “How Bork’s 1987 Nomination Muted Supreme Court Nomination Hearings | Retro Report

  • They really need a muslim on the supreme court. Retrumplicans want to abolish women's rights. Why waste time with white guys.
    Muslims got that shit down. Retrumplicans haven't figured out how much they have in common with muslims or maybe they have and don't want everyone else to figure it out.

  • The only reason Drumpf wants to impose Cavanaugh is to get a free ticket out of any treason charge that may arise against him (Drumpf) and his clan.

  • A criminal investigated president nominating his judges? Trump was above the law when he was a private citizen, now as president. What he would do? THIS IS INSANE.
    You didn´t vote because you thought Hillary would win easily? Big mistake! Now is your chance to fix this mess you’ve created.
    Make America Sane Again. Let´s register and vote on November. Don´t vote for the same idiots again.

  • Republicans NEVER stooped as low as these liberal Dems. It's disgusting. Keep thinking Trump is a liar or a criminal or whatever, reality is more than half of us Americans trust him and have his back. MAGA.

  • Open & give truth about Admiral KIMMEL & STARK RELEASE INFO ON PEARL HARBOUR HOW A X PRESIDENT. ALLOWED DEATHS OF MANY Americans same as. WORLD TRADE CENTER. Truth always will come. MCCAIN KNOW S AS HE HAS BEEN JUDGED.( gone down not up)

  • "there is no one more deserving" Is that like when Trump said No-one respects women more than me or veterans. Or when he said no-one is less racist than me. You can't believe a word this piece of subhuman crap says. He only wants to have him on the court because he thinks he won't let an indictment against a sitting president go thru. It is Jeff Sessions all over again.

  • The most simple answer is George soros paying protesters they have pictures of the protesters taking money from a guy whose working for one of George soros foundation!! It's just more crybabies and sore losers with Trump derangement syndrome!! This is what you get when you brainwash a generation in public government ran institutions with communist marxists and socialist parties running everything!! Now we have a dumbed down generation that believes socialism and communism are better than capitalism!! Especially when capitalism has pulled more people out of poverty than socialism or communism!! And too often hear America referred to as a democracy and not as a republic!! Venezuela is our destination if this isn't stopped!! Also Cuba!!

  • Brett Kavanaugh young version of Bork from days Of Reagan , Trying To Revise Bork Beliefs For Woman, America. Not In 2018.
    Not Today Brett Kavanaugh.

  • omg. look at these stupid sheep and their comments…WAKE UP, THE INVESTIGATION IS A SHAM AND HAS BEEN FROM THE START…ALL BEING EXPOSED..BUT OF COURSE YOU ALL WATCH THIS SHIT STATION, AND OF COURSE THEY NEVER TELL THE TRUTH…AND LOOK AT THE HEARINGS…THAT IS YOU GUYS AT YOUR BEST..ACTING LIKE A BUNCH OF CHILDREN…THOSE PAID IDIOTS DON'T EVEN KNOW WHO kAVANAUGH IS…YOU ALL LOOK LIKE IDIOTS AND MORE AND MORE PEOPLE ARE LEAVING YOUR PARTY…DUMB ASSES , ALL OF YOU SHEEP…GO BACK TO SLEEP…

  • Try making the time of abortion not 9 months!! Change that not overturning Roe V. Wade . Leave homosexual marriage alone. It’s nobody’s business. There is separation of church and state. PERIOD.

  • How??? I tell u how. Liberals is a mental disorder………. they think they own the place and no one but a liberal should be in the supreme Court. Sickness liberals

  • Thanks for helping me see the light democrats. Will NEVER vote for your corrupt party again! Unbelievable! You killed yourselves. Identity politics is NOT politics dumbasses!

  • THIS IS GOING TO GET BAD AS A FATHER HE SHOULD STEP DOWN REGARDLESS FOR THE SAKE OF HIS GIRLS THIS WILL FOLLOW THEM FOREVER

  • Are you sure it is not because of corrupt Rapist Republicans? Because 2 MORE accusers have stepped up, so now Kavanaugh has THREE accusers! One includes he used drugs to set up gang RAPES!

  • Rethuglicans have been ramming conservative judges down Americans throats for decades. Democrats push back and Republicans start crying. What killed Bork was his part in Nixon’s Saturday night massacre.

  • … except his answers won't influence ANYTHING, Democrats already said they won't support him regardless of what he says. Not to mention this whole debacle with the accusations…

  • One word trump, is toxic kavangh should have never got i nvolved with trump. Everyone staying clear of trump. Kavangh didnt get the memo.

  • Why is Clarence Thomas not also included in this? The fact of the matter is, the sleazy democrats are held to a different standard than the republicans. Now they can make false allegations of the candidate being an alcoholic serial gang rapist, and the media just rubber stamps it.

  • This is just like Kavanaugh hearings. Lindsay Graham defending him and trump speaking of him as the best …political power …forget the people

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