Twenty Years Ago Today Robert Bork, after a campaign of falsehood and calumny the likes of which had never been seen in a judicial confirmation hearing, was rejected by the Senate 58-42. I went to the hearings, they rotated you out after a half hour so in person I only saw a bit the couple of days I went. I saw Howell Heflin of Alabama ask him "Judge Bowk...why didja grow yo' beahd?" I was at Georgetown University Law Center and saw the cowardly, dissapated Senator Edward Kennedy give his "in Judge Bawk's America" speech. Georgetown law provided the forum but did not insist he take questions and he did not. The Georgetown faculty, en masse marched up to the Hill to pile on.
Me and my friends cheered him on as he came to the Senate for meetings (we lived on the Hill and in those days you could just watch people go in from the parking lot). Very little in the last twenty years has so radicalized me to fight the Left as those hearings or that man. Originalism seemed so clear a manner of judging if a written constitution was to have any meaning and a Republic a rule of law that I could not believe what I was watching.
Since then I have read his books, bought him a round of scotch on one memorable occassion and put my oar in on the great judicial battles that came in his wake. For the country these battles have injured the non-political nature of the judiciary. The Left is entitled to believe it an unmitigated success however. Justice Kennedy has never been able to resist the siren song of popularity that Judge Bork could. His votes on a myriad of issues the Founders left to the People but Kennedy leaves to 5 unelected Solons, reward them. But the galvanized judicial right and the clear warning to America of what the Left wants from the bench, to rule without elections, has lost them Senate seat after Senate seat and at least three supreme Court seats since then.
God Bless Judge Bork. Texans can remember the Alamo as a loss in a grand cause that propelled them to final victory. For those who want a Constitution rather than a judicial tyranny, the Battle of Bork will serve the same purpose.