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Robert H. Bork (1 of 1) 5 blogs
"The life of the law has not been logic. It has been experience. "--Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Bob Bork

Robert Heron Bork was a lawyer, receiving his undergraduate and law school degrees from the University of Chicago. He spent his teaching years at Yale and was two years younger than I am. He died in 2012, and so I outlived him both before he was born, and afterward, and have looked on him as both a young squirt and a thing of the past. During his long career, he wrote at least ten books, was a partner in a prestigious law firm, taught hundreds of law clerks and students, served in the U.S. Marine Corps. served as Solicitor General and Acting Attorney General of the United States, and Circuit Court of Appeals for the District Court of Washington DC. It was while he was doing all this, he came to the notice of Ronald Reagan and was nominated for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

This review concentrates on five episodes -- a successful revision of the whole concept of the Sherman Antitrust Statute after sixty years of reigning as Brandeis' settled law for small business, his invention of "the best interest of the consumer" as a better basis for common law, his identification of Roe v. Wade as the right decision proceeding from the wrong starting-point, and his conversion to Justice Anton Scalia's version of "original intent" as the basis for challenging the "living Constitution" theory of the Warren Court to judicial legislation. Although Bork wrote and extrapolated from hundreds of decisions, these four issues set forth the flavor of his approach, and the tragedy of the fifth, Senator Arlen Specter's blockage of Bork's Supreme Court nomination.

The word style is that of a judicial opinion, excessively wordy in order to explain how a brilliant mind considers both sides of everything. Surely he could have afforded a popular editor to appeal to the public, and thus to defeat Specter. Apparently, he disdained such condescension and willingly paid the price for retaining an ancient approach to a modern problem.

Originally published: Wednesday, April 03, 2019; most-recently modified: Wednesday, May 15, 2019