Remembering Robert Bork

Robert H. Bork died earlier today. A long-time law professor at Yale who later served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Bork is best known for his “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution and the political war that followed President Reagan’s nomination of Bork to serve on the United States Supreme Court.

A long obituary in The New York Times includes this reflection on the fight over his SCOTUS nomination:

It is rare for the Senate in its constitutional “advice and consent” role to turn down a president’s Supreme Court nominee, and rarer still for that rejection to be based not on qualifications but on judicial philosophy and temperament. That turned Judge Bork’s defeat into a watershed event and his name into a verb: getting “borked” is what happens to a nominee rejected for what supporters consider political motives.

The success of the anti-Bork campaign is widely seen to have shifted the tone and emphasis of Supreme Court nominations since then, giving them an often strong political cast and making it hard, many argue, for a nominee with firmly held views ever to get confirmed.

Bork is remembered by admirers (here, here and here) today. Jeffrey Rosen reflects on the continuing fallout of the defeat of Bork’s nomination in 1987.