The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bork Bites the Dust

And I'm not talking about a Swedish chef.

Robert Bork, the demonic loose cannon of 1980's jurisprudence, one of the few people too conservative even to be confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice, has passed on.

Just in case anyone is tempted not to speak ill of the dead, here's a selective sample of Bork's attitudes and achievements (they could not really be dignified with the term "opinions.")

  • Believed that a blanket law prohibiting contraception, by anyone, married or not, was not unconstitutional.
  • Bowed to Nixon's demand that Archibald Cox be fired, after two Nixon appointees had refused to do so.
  • Espoused positions so radical that the ACLU was forced off the fence and into a position of advocacy.
  • Similarly, took a view of civil rights so archaic and inhuman that even southern democrats with a history of racist voting couldn't support his nomination.

In our era of loud revisionism, it's fashionable to claim that Bork was turned down for the court appointment "for political reasons" and that his treatment during confirmation was somehow biased and unfair. This point of view starts, ironically, as a liberal one: it takes as its basis that you have a right to be any kind of a fundamentalist jackass you want to be. Then it veers into a far right position, saying that not only do you have that right, but you have the right to inflict those views on everybody else. That is what every judge, in every court, essentially has: the right to subject law to a review colored by whatever kind of glasses he or she prefers to wear. And if you reveal to the world, in published material, over and over again, that your view of the law is somewhere to the right of Sharia, then the polity has the right to send you home and pick up the next resume on the pile.

Bork did not fail in his confirmation because of mindless political partisanship. He failed because he was, in fact, as bad as he was painted, and his own words convict him.