Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Dec/12

20

Recalling the 1987 Bork confirmation fight

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Did you know opponents of Bork’s confirmation waged a whispering campaign against the conservative nominee in the South on the grounds that he wasn’t a religious believer? I explain in a New York Post op-ed out this morning. According to this article at Catholic World Report, Bork considered himself an atheist at the time of the Senate confirmation fight; later, he was to convert to Catholicism.

There are enough ironies here to satisfy anyone. Had Bork joined the Court — assuming the trajectory of his attraction toward religious belief would not itself have been altered by that fact — he might well have outflanked Scalia in bringing a jurisprudence infused by orthodox Catholicism to the Court. For both supporters and opponents, believers and non-, there are lessons here in humility about how far off base we can fall if we treat adversaries’ (or friends’) intellectual positions as fixed and immutable. More from Nick Gillespie at Reason.

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3 comments

  • Rbaron321 · December 21, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Its a strange trade off. On one hand, we seem to only get life-long overachievers/status seekers to the court system now. On the other hand, it seems as if the Bork really would have written opinions that would have been far out of step with the American public.

    Where would technology be today if Bork idea of the limits of 1st Amendment had come to pass right when the internet was taking off? As an over wired young person, I shudder.

  • Rbaron321 · December 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Its a strange trade off. On one hand, we seem to only get life-long overachievers/status seekers to the court system now. On the other hand, it seems as if the Bork really would have written opinions that would have been far out of step with the American public.

    Where would technology be today if Bork idea of the limits of 1st Amendment had come to pass right when the internet was taking off? As an over wired young person, I shudder.

  • Author comment by Steve Cardon · December 22, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    I remember the confirmation hearings well. I had recently finished serving in the Air Force, and was being exposed to a radically different environment having just moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan to be a computer tech.

    What transpired was a level of cultural shock for which I was not prepared. I had not, until that time, come to fully appreciate the level of dishonesty and hippocracy of which politicians were capable. Bork was a brilliant man, and I fully believe his opinions would have evolved with events and arguments presented to him.

    Judges are not meant to know everything. Were this the case, there would be no nead to go through the exersize of having others present their case. Judges should be chosen for having great intelligence and powers of discernment. They should have the intellectual honesty to adjust their personal opinions when new information and arguments brought before them warrant it.

    I am constantly irritated with people disengenuously throwing out the “flip flop” accusation at politicians, public servants of all stripes, anyone. We all take in new information and adjust our thinking accordingly. If we do not, we stagnate and do not learn. Bork would doubtless have considered all evidence and rendered opinions based on the arguments and facts presented.

    I followed those hearings in horror, and could not believe that an individual would be subjected to that low a level of abuse and sabotage by elected individuals who I had previously (naively) assumed to have sought office in order to serve the publics better good.

    I am not bemoaning lost innocence. But it is worth reflecting that Democratic congressmen whose median IQ level was probably 50 or more points below that of Mr. Bork, were allowed to put him through a humiliation he did not deserve to bear, and denied the US a brilliant thinker who likely would not have been nearly as dogmatic and inflexible as some feared.

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