That Glimmer in the Judge’s Eye

Robert Bork died this morning. He should have been on the Supreme Court. But perhaps the fact that he wasn’t confirmed was as important a lesson to us as the time Ronald Reagan intended to have him spend on the Court might have been.

I remember emceeing a “Women for Roberts” event back one hot August D.C. day. Bob would be on the Supreme Court if his hearings were held today, Mary Ellen Bork (one of said women and wife of Judge Bork), observed as we gathered at the National Press Club, noting the rise in alternative media venues and opportunities.

Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden aren’t the only powerbrokers anymore.

But we still have so much to learn. Maybe in particular about protecting human dignity and civility as we go about our political debates. Maybe we’d even get somewhere on some of the most contentious issues if we did.

That Bork is a verb should remain a reflection for everyone in politics, for anyone in the throes of a frenzy.

I was blessed to spend a little time with Judge Bork over the years. One of my favorite memories was him thanking me for inviting him to National Review Online’s 10th anniversary party, which, we were all, of course, delighted he took the time to attend. (I’m pretty sure it was Mary Ellen who wanted to be there!) I remember like it was yesterday: He took me aside because he wanted to say thank you so he could leave and “order Domino’s” (good, pro-life pizza some of us would affectionately call it; it’s founder, Tom Monaghan, recently joined those who are suing the Department of Health and Human Services over that abortion-drug, contraception, sterilization mandate).

In, but not of, D.C.!

Whenever I saw him, Judge Bork’s face radiated love, peace, and beauty. Was it a reflection of Mary Ellen’s love for him? Was she reflecting his love for her in her own flicker of peace in a busy city? Or was it something even deeper?

One night a few years ago, I watched Judge Bork quite enchanted with the simplicity and enthusiasm of a young child. She, too, was drawn to the grandfatherly joy that emanated (I hope he would excuse the use of a word with 40 years of poisonous judicial baggage) from him in her presence.

This was all, pretty unmistakably, the love of God this trio were participating in, humbled by, immersed in, consoled by. A palpable participation in the eternal dance of the Trinity.

It’s the love that spares a man from despair even while we might be Slouching Toward Gommorrah. It’s a love that consoles a man whose last years were riddled with physical pain, a love that gives a devoted wife the courage to be at his side at his final suffering.

  • Theresa Thomas

    I was looking for a “like” button, and since I didn’t see one I thought I would comment here. This piece is beautiful, Kathryn! I love it. I suspect Judge Bork would have loved it too.

  • stephen didovich


  • David

    Does anyone see the irony of the two Catholics that collided in 1987? Borked by what certainly optimized the face of the Catholic Church in 1987, Ted Kennedy. I hated what Ted Kennedy stood for and Joe Biden stood right there with him. Then when this despicable person’s life ended without any public confession or repentance of the evil he promoted against some of the most foundational dogmas of the Church, Cardinals, bishops, priests, and leaders honored him. It nauseates me to this day, and I can hardly talk about it. I have to repent of my own bitterness every time I think about it, not toward Kennedy, but toward the Bishops that will likely burn in hell with him. (I am saying a prayer right now that he may have repented on his death bed and his soul rest in peace and the churchmen who honored him and still do) So, the irony is that the man who “catholics” loved dismantled the man they hated, and the man they hated was the one who truly optimized the Catholic Church and her teachings. He even publicly embraced Her (the Catholic Church) knowing that She never really honored Kennedy, only those who really never honored Her. He could see through all of the Kennedy/Biden catholic lies and became so much greater than the man who had so many presidents at his funeral and dignitaries one could hardly count them. One man did nothing but slouch towards Gomorrah and the other was a voice crying out in warning of our impending demise.

  • David

    KJL, you probably shouldn’t post that, but I sure feel better getting it off my chest.

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  • Rebecca Isaac

    Dear Kathryn,
    This farewell was a beautiful and loving witness to a man who was so misrepresented in the ’80′s. You do him great justice…and, I suspect, here was a man who truly embraced and admired the eternal essence of Justice. Thank you for this wonderful piece…your inspiration comes from the Holy Spirit, who wanted these words to be an outstanding expression of affection for a man in transition to Heaven – the home of Love! God bless you for all that you do in defense of the Truth, who is Christ Himself.

  • Peter Droege


    Thanks for the beautiful tribute to this extraordinary gentleman. His 1996 book, “Slouching Towards Gomorrah — Modern Liberalism and American Decline,” was shocking when published, but prescient in hindsight. I had the privilege of having a conversation with him during the Clinton impeachment and his observation was that the fact that America seemed willing to tolerate immoral behavior from a sitting president was a cause for great concern for our nation. We have come far down that path, one from which there may be no return. God bless you and keep you Judge Bork.

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