While I was in the hospital, Robert Bork died. Perfect timing. I have made no secret of my dislike of Bork. I consider the nation to have dodged a huge bullet when he was kept off the Supreme Court in 1987. He would have been Clarence Thomas to the third power, the most dangerous and malevolent justice in the history of the court that I admire so much.
When Andrew Sullivan calls the campaign against his nomination to the court “a smear campaign of almost unprecedented ferocity,” that is vastly overstated. Yes, there was demagoguery employed against him, as there always is in such battles (to be fair, his nomination did make such tactics the norm rather than the exception). But the real dangers of a Bork on the court would hardly have been any less destructive than his detractors argued, even if it was in different ways. And the huge record of deranged writings he has put out since being voted down by the Senate, which Sullivan admits is “embittered, angry, bigoted in many ways, and hostile to modern American culture and life,” only proves that to be true.
An alleged “originalist,” Bork would have read entire sections of the Constitution out of existence. He argued, for example, that the First Amendment did not protect anything but explicitly political speech, leaving artistic, scientific or literary speech unprotected. The 9th Amendment was a mere “ink blot” to be ignored, the concept of unenumerated rights shoved down the rabbit hole forever. It may be the single luckiest nomination that didn’t happen in the history of this country.