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Saturday, December 15, 2007
posted by Kyle Hampton | 11:42 AM | permalink
I just wanted to follow up on the Bork endorsement. Being a law student, such an endorsement is especially meaningful to me.

I assume that most are aware of his nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987 by Ronald Reagan. After elevating William Rehnquist from Associate Justice to Chief Justice, upon the retirement of Warren Burger, and filling the new vacancy with Antonin Scalia in 1986, Ronald Reagan was given another chance to fill the court with conservative jurists. With the vacancy from Lewis Powell's retirement in 1987, Reagan nominated Robert Bork. Of course that nomination was famously rejected by the Senate, leading to the later elevation of Anthony Kennedy to the Supreme Court (who subsequently upheld Roe v. Wade in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and wrote the opinion in such decidedly illogical cases such as Lawrence v. Texas and Romer v. Evans).

Bork is famously remembered for his failed nomination, but Bork was and has been much more influential in conservative thought. Indeed, Yale professor of law and political science Bruce A. Ackerman wrote in 1988 in the Harvard Law Review:
I begin where Chief Justice Burger ended [in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee]: when judged by normal personal and professional criteria, Robert Bork is among the best qualified candidates for the Supreme Court of this or any other era. Few nominees in our history compare with him in the range of their professional accomplishments -- as public servant, private practitioner, appellate judge, legal scholar. Few compare in the seriousness of their lifelong engagement with the fundamental questions of constitutional law. Of course, Bork's answers to these questions are controversial. But who can be surprised by that? Even those, like myself, who disagree with Bork both can and should admire the way he has woven theory and practice, reason and passion, into a pattern that expresses so eloquently our deepest hopes for a life in the law. The Republic needs more people like Robert Bork. 101 Harv. L. Rev. 1164
The endorsement of such an accomplished and influential person in conservative thought and conservative circles is deeply telling about the candidacy of Mitt Romney. Not only does it indicate the type of principled jurists that Romney could be expected to nominate for the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts, but it also is telling about the intellectual underpinnings of Romney's view of conservatism.

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