Bork on Sotomayor and Himself

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Robert Bork, who was rejected by the Senate in 1987, is still kind of, um, bitter. The almost comic video from Newsmax.com features an interview in which he says that Sonia Sotomayor doesn't follow the law and that her "wise Latina" line should have been disqualifying. I thank my friends at Talkingpointsmemo.com for the heads up. Here's the video:



I have a few thoughts about Bork, some sympathetic and some not so much. First, I think the now generation-long conservative gripe about his not getting on the Supreme Court has a lot of merit. The Ted Kennedy attack on Bork was pretty outrageous, arguing that the Justice wanted a return to segregated lunch counters among other past evils. Bork was and is a critic of the Warren Court in the mold of Antonin Scalia--although he was to the right of Scalia on issues like flag burning. But his views were utterly lampooned by the Democrats. When his nomination went down, Republicans were outraged. His would-be successor, Douglas Ginsburg, had to withdraw his nomination after his marijuana use came to light. He's still on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. After that fiasco, an exhausted Senate confirmed Anthony Kennedy 97-0.

So Bork has some reason to be bitter but he's been milking it for years now. For someone who says he doesn't want judges to litigate and wants politics left to the politicians, he's still shocked that politics somehow tainted his nomination. But the Senate is a political body and just as it struck down two of President Nixon's Supreme Court nominees it knocked down Bork. In the Borkian view, which he repeats on the video, the Supreme Court was once a serent place but because the Warren Court was so whacked out. (Miranda rights! Brown v. Board!) it injected itself into the political sphere and thus its fights got more extreme. There's something to that. Even pro-choice liberals like Ruth Bader Ginsburg have questioned the court's decision in Roe.

But the fact is that presidential court nominees have gotten pretty respectful hearings. Certainly John Roberts and Sam Alito did.

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Matthew Cooper is a managing editor (White House) for National Journal.

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