The pro-life movement today is mourning the passing of Judge Robert Bork, a pro-life champion who was famously attacked by abortion advocates and denied a spot on the Supreme Court, where he could have become the deciding vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Bork, who was a LifeNews reader for many years, died at the age of 85 from complications of heart ailments.
Bork was nomination to the Supreme Court but was so aggressively attacked by Democrats who opposed his nomination over his conservative ad pro-life views that the term “Borked” entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 2002 as a verb meaning to block a nominee for public office by vilification.
Judge Bork was often praised for his brilliant legal work and his service as Solicitor General and then Acting Attorney General but he became a household name after he was attacked following his nomination to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan. Some pro-life political observers have said over the years that had Bork been confirmed and Justice Souter not betrayed conservatives by supporting abortion, Roe may well have bee overturned by now and millions of unborn children saved.
Conservative writer Roger Kimball recalled the famous attacks on the pro-life nominee.
“The vicious campaign waged against Judge Bork set a new low—possibly never exceeded—in the exhibition of unbridled leftist venom, indeed hate,” he writes today. “Reporters combed through the Borks’ trash hoping to find comprising tidbits; they inspected his movie rentals, and were disgusted to find the films of John Wayne liberally represented.”
A breathtaking congeries of falsehoods that, were they not protected by the prerogatives of senatorial privilege, would have taken a conspicuous place in the annals of malicious slander and character assassination. In The Tempting of America, Judge Bork recounts his incredulity at this tissue of malign fabrication. “It had simply never occurred to me that anybody could misrepresent my career and views as Kennedy did.” At the time, he notes, many people thought that Kennedy had blundered by emitting so flagrant, and flagrantly untrue, an attack. They were wrong. His “calculated personal assault, . . . more violent than any against a judicial nominee in our country’s history,” did the job (with a little help from Joe Biden and Arlen Specter). Not only was Kennedy instrumental in preventing a great jurist from taking his place on the Supreme Court, he also contributed immeasurably to the cheapening of American political discourse.
In a way, Robert Bork had the last laugh. Ted Kennedy went to his grave a rancid, lumbering, pathetic laughing stock. Bork went from intellectual triumph to intellectual triumph, contributing now-classic studies to the library of legal understanding and penning two of the most important works of social criticism of the last several decades, the aforementioned Tempting of America and Slouching Toward Gemorrah, wild bestsellers both. I am proud to say that this spring Encounter Books will be publishing a memoir by Judge Bork called Saving Justice: Watergate,. The Saturday Night Massacre, and Other Adventures of a Solicitor General.
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Bob Bork was a great American and a dear friend, witty, compassionate, with a laser-like analytical mind and compendious store of cultural reference.
The pro-life legal group Americans United for Life issued a statement to LifeNews honoring Bork.
Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest told LifeNews the news of Judge Robert Bork’s passing “was met with great sorrow by the legal team of AUL. We greatly respect the significance of Judge Bork’s legal contribution, and we have benefited from his generosity of spirit.”
Yoest added: “Judge Robert Bork was a great legal mind and substantive scholar who framed and challenged the issues of our day. Rarely does one meet a towering intellect – someone who presents the hardest issues in a way which reveals their true substance. Judge Bork was such a man: a thoughtful intellectual whose contribution to American jurisprudence leaves a significant and lasting legacy. In my acquaintance with him, I found him to be generous with both his time and wisdom, truly sharing his gift with the world. We at AUL send our condolences to Judge Bork’s family and mourn the loss of such a great man and scholar.”