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.
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.
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.