Terry Eastland's comment in the July 23rd issue contains a reasonable account of the liberal/conservative divide in the Supreme Court in recent decades. However, the comment goes horribly awry regarding the failed Robert Bork nomination. Calling the opposition to Bork a "vicious" campaign is totally out of bounds; more accurate would be to call it "vigorous", or "spirited", but certainly not "vicious", which is a slur.
Calling Bork "one of the great
intellectuals in the law" is simply ludicrous. Noone who watched or
listened to his inept testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee
would mistake Bork for a "great intellectual". He repeatedly refused to
answer even the simplest, most basic questions about the criminal law,
using the excuse that he hadn't studied the issue.
Bork had more problems than this. He came across in the confirmation hearings as aloof and
unapproachable, turning off even many of his supporters. As Senator
Howell Heflin commented, "He's too professorial".
ably documented in Ethan Bronner's "Battle for Justice: How the Bork
Nomination Shook America", Bork waffled over key issues during his
confirmation hearing, repeatedly flip-flopping back and forth. This made
him look hopelessly opportunistic, and called his character into
question. Bronner says that Bork "modified views he had held strongly
and repeated widely for two decades". Bronner adds that Bork's repeated waffling earned him
"the contempt of some fervent admirers".
Not every issue boils down to liberal vs. conservative. Sometimes it is just competent vs. incompetent.
This week at the court
6 hours ago