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 throttleand 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 womena
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
“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.”
The tributes to Bork at the time of his
death revisited this sordid history. But none, to my knowledge, focused
on the area where, sadly, I believe he was most propheticnamely, his
pessimism about American life and culture.
I never met Bork to discuss that
pessimism, but a former Grove City College student of mine did. It was
about 10 years ago. I was speaking at Ave Maria University School of Law
in Ann Arbor, Michigan. My former student, Mark, was there. He was
taking a class that semester with Judge Bork. He shared with me a dose
of the usual Bork cynicism. Looking to buoy Bork a bit, my student
optimistically told the judge that America’s future looked good because
of promising demographics. He noted that committed evangelicals and
orthodox Roman Catholics were having lots of children, whereas secular
leftists were not. Surely, he assured Bork, this boded well for the
culture, or at least the kind of culture Bork desired.
“No, no,” disagreed Bork. The judge
conceded the positive demographics but noted that most of these
evangelicals and Catholics send their kids to colleges dominated by
these secular liberals, where all the ideals and values the youngsters
learned at home and at their churches is rapidly undermined in four
yearswith the faithful parents unwittingly paying for the undermining.
In short order, these conservative Christians support abortion and gay
“We’re doomed,” Bork assured my student. America was on the road to Gomorrah.
Unfortunately, I think Robert Bork was exactly right.
For today’s liberals, who call themselves “progressives,” support for abortion has morphed into forcing fellow taxpayers to pay for itand they plainly smear those who think otherwise as favoring a “war on women.” Their support for gay rights has morphed into gay marriagewith accompanying vitriol slung at anyone who disagrees.
Robert Bork was a man ahead of his time.
Judge Robert Bork, rest in peacefar away from the shores of Gomorrah.