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Bork's Shadow--Larger Than Recognized:

The Washington Post assesses Bork's shadow:

While conservatives still nurse grievances, liberals hold up the Block Bork campaign as a heroic moment in modern politics. "Keeping him off the Court ranks among the most important achievements of the progressive coalition over the past seven decades," Ralph G. Neas, who led the anti-Bork battle, wrote in an essay on the Web site of his group, People for the American Way.

Focusing just on the precise moment of the defeat of Bork and appointment of Justice Kennedy, however, understates the true shadow cast by the event. It also led to the counterstrategy by Republicans to nominate a "stealth" candidate (David Souter) in order to try to avoid having him "Borked." As subsequent history has shown the "stealth candidate" strategy has its own limitations for an appointing President.

So, in fact, it would probably be more accurate to give credit (in a realpolitic sense) to Ralph Neas and the others who led the fight against Bork not just for getting Kennedy instead of Bork, but for Justice Souter as well.

Been There, Done That:
While some of the attacks on Bork were unfair, Bork's pronouncements in the years following his rejection show that Ralph Neas, et al. probably did conservatives a favor by borking Bork.

How much of an originalist or strict constructionist was Bork, really, if he can take the so-called "collective rights" view of the Second Amendment? Bork also sometimes overlooks Article III itself. I saw Bork speak in the late 90s at the FedSoc convention, and he sounded more like Pat Buchanan in decrying the concept of judicial review.

The only common thread in the man's thinking is statism, in the name of "democracy." Great for drug warrior conservatives. Not so great for conservatives who want to reign in the government's power. People here were upset with Scalia in Raich and Kennedy in Kelo. Bork would have likely been in both majorities.

The other disturbing aspect of Bork's behavior is his acerbicness in the years post his confirmation battle. Understandable or not, it reveals a temperment not appropriate for any position of authority.
7.12.2005 10:57am
jurisprude:

"Not so great for conservatives who want to reign in the government's power."

I think that's probably supposed to be "rein," but I could be wrong.
7.12.2005 11:27am
Al Maviva (mail):
Oh, come off it with the Bork thing. He wasn't treated that badly at all, and we should drop the grievance mongering on his behalf. Anymore, it doesn't qualify as an adversarial hearing, until the nominee's wife can be heard sobbing on C-SPAN, over the sound of Ted Kennedy's chuckling.

Now that's what I call advise and consent. It's democracy at its finest, as H.L. Mencken would have imagined it.

Would that we could give the same treatment to Ralph Neas.
7.12.2005 11:43am
Steve:
I mean, of course some things said about Bork weren't literally true, just like George Bush didn't really want to make America a theocracy, and John Kerry didn't really want to get us nuked by the terrorists. That's politics. It's like we're being sold this fantasy that up until the Bork nomination, American politics was this civilized place where a presidential nominee's record was always discussed with total accuracy and in the most measured tones.

Just as the Democrats wanted to argue Bork was unacceptable, today's Republicans want to argue Bork got a raw deal in order to suggest that when the Democrats say bad things about a nominee, it's just an unfair smear. Again, this is politics, and it's barely worth analyzing.
7.12.2005 11:51am
Hugh59 (mail):
Teddy Kennedy, Chuck Schumer, and Ralph Neas deserve a special place in hell for what they have done to destroy the process for approval of presidential nominees to the Supreme Court. I leave it to the imagination of the readers to write appropriate curses and punishments to be visited on these political hacks.
7.12.2005 1:08pm
Cheburashka (mail):
The other disturbing aspect of Bork's behavior is his acerbicness in the years post his confirmation battle. Understandable or not, it reveals a temperment not appropriate for any position of authority.

I think any of us would be bitter if our last name had come to mean "To be treated horribly unfairly and made to look like a racist lunatic on national television at what should have been the crowning moment of one's career."
7.12.2005 1:35pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
May Teddy Kennedy, Chuck Schumer, and Ralph Neas experience a Road to Damascus moment, become fundamentalist evangelical Christians, and spear head a ministry bringing together conservative Christians of all racial and ethnic background in support of traditional family values.

Of course I think of this as a blessing, not a curse. YMMV.

Yours,
Wince
7.12.2005 1:59pm
JohnAnnArbor:
"Keeping him off the Court ranks among the most important achievements of the progressive coalition over the past seven decades," Ralph G. Neas, who led the anti-Bork battle, wrote in an essay on the Web site of his group, People for the American Way."

Wow. Way to be humble, Ralph.
7.12.2005 2:31pm
jurisprude:

"Teddy Kennedy, Chuck Schumer, and Ralph Neas deserve a special place in hell for what they have done to destroy the process for approval of presidential nominees to the Supreme Court."

It's amazing what kind of things are passing for sins these days. Of course, now that the political right has a direct line to the Almighty, I suppose they could get their political opponents thrown in hell, if they really wanted to.

Not that I don't agree with your general sentiments, but I take offense to the use of exaggerated, acrid invective in this kind of instance. Don't just be mad at those three, be mad at the system that let them get away with it.

Sometimes I feel like Alfred E. Neuman is running all three branches of the government.
7.12.2005 2:40pm
Been There, Done That:
We would have been better off if Bork lost 100-0 following his accurate portrayal as a statist lunatic, rather than 58-42 because he was inaccurately portrayed as a racist lunatic.

The left turned the process into one full of hysterics, cheap shots, and sloganeering. The truth about Bork is much scarier than the fiction.

One fallout of the experience was the "Bork Law," which now forbids video rental stores from revealing an individual's rental history. In that sense, there is greater protection for videos than there is for library books -- and one wonders how Bork would have viewed, apart from himself, the concept of governmental authorities rummaging through library borrowing or video rental records. As it turned out, I don't think Bork even had anything rated over PG, which reveals a lack of qualification to critique the culture, as well as a certain dullness.

And yes, Chebarushka, anyone would be bitter about mistreatment. That's the point. Ordinary people might be expected some degree of impertinence. For the Supreme Court, we expect more. Losing judges who come out against judicial review are no better than losing politicians who come out against democracy.
7.12.2005 3:09pm
Zywicki (mail):
Yes, but he did have a Simpsons character modeled after him too, so that surely scores serious props with the grandkids if nothing else. As the Wa Po article notes, Bork has shaved his beard--yet the judge on the Simpsons still has his. I guess that will always be how he is remembered...
7.12.2005 6:09pm
Steve:
The warning at the bottom of the comment window is rather meaningless if invective consigning one's political opponents to Hell is going to be permitted.
7.12.2005 9:44pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
I propose a new system of hearings.

Round one: Written questions are delivered to the nominee. The nominee supplies written answers to the Senate and the press.

Round two: Written questions are delivered to the Senators from the nominee. The Senators supply written answers to the nominee and the press.

Round three: Public hearings. Half the time is devoted to the nominee's questions of the Senators and their answers.

After all, many Senators, like those from my home state, Kansas, have absolutely safe seats, and as long as they remain relatively true to their own political philosophy (hardly a difficult task) they will be electd until the tire. It would be nice it they had some accountability, by being forced to answer questions as well as ask them.

jurisprude and Steve are correct about invective. I'm afraid that "special circle of hell" doesn't sound like invective to me anymore, but rather a literary device echoing back to Dante. I also think that creative, flippant curses are funny. I've witnessed too many flame wars and my skin is too thick.

Yours,
Wince
7.13.2005 10:20am
Cheburashka (mail):
And yes, Chebarushka, anyone would be bitter about mistreatment. That's the point. Ordinary people might be expected some degree of impertinence. For the Supreme Court, we expect more. Losing judges who come out against judicial review are no better than losing politicians who come out against democracy.

I think the man deserves some personal defense. He is, by all reports, quite possibly the bitterest man on Earth. I mean, if you invite him to a fundraising dinner, you have to organize the tables around him because the list of people he refuses to be in the presence of is now so long.

Maybe that means he didn't have the temperment to be on the Court. But it was still really, really mean.
7.13.2005 5:47pm