Death of symbol of US conservatism Robert Bork


Robert Bork, an American symbol of conservative judicial activism who played pivotal roles in Washington dramas around the Supreme Court and Watergate and whose name became a verb, died yesterday at 85.

Nominated to the US Supreme Court by Republican president Ronald Reagan in 1987, Bork was rejected by the Democratic-led US Senate following debate over his conservative judicial philosophy. He became a potent symbol to conservatives.

“To bork” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2002 with the definition, “To defame or vilify (a person) systematically, especially in the mass media, usually with the aim of preventing his or her appointment to public office; to obstruct or thwart (a person) in this way.”

Mr Bork was already known to Americans as a figure in the Watergate scandal – the man who carried out Richard Nixon’s order to fire the special prosecutor in the 1973 “Saturday Night Massacre” – when he was nominated to the Supreme Court.

Within 45 minutes of his nomination on July 1st, 1987, Senator Edward Kennedy denounced him on the Senate floor as a man who wanted to outlaw abortion, ban the teaching of evolution and revive racial segregation. Bork complained that not a line of the speech was accurate.

The Senate rejected Bork 58-42, the largest defeat for any Supreme Court nominee and a big defeat for Reagan. Bork remained bitter for years and conservatives regarded him as a martyr to liberal activism and unreason. – (Reuters)