Judge Robert Bork, the Reagan nominee for the Supreme Court who failed to make it through confirmation hearings, died today from heart ailments in Arlington, Va., at age 85.
Bork was a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals since 1982 when President Reagan nominated him following the retirement of Justice Lewis Powell. Clarence Thomas would fill Bork’s spot on the appellate bench, and would ascend to the Supreme Court after his own contentious congressional hearings in 1991.
Current Vice President Joe Biden, then head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) were key in shooting down Bork, relentlessly attacking him and labeling him an extremist.
Bork withdrew his name for consideration after a 9-5 vote against his confirmation in Biden’s committee. The Senate would still vote on the nomination, and it failed 58-42.
Some of his supporters then, still in the upper chamber, were Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
“Robert Bork was one of America’s greatest jurists and a brilliant legal mind,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). “He was an expert on issues ranging from antitrust to privacy laws and was deeply influential in promoting constitutional originalism. Despite the unfortunate and unnecessary controversy surrounding his Supreme Court nomination, Judge Bork remained an inspirational figure for those seeking to enforce constitutional limits on the federal government. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bork family.”
“I am deeply saddened by the news of Judge Robert Bork’s passing,” said Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.). “Not only was Judge Bork one of America’s great legal minds, but he was also a tremendous public servant. Judge Bork built a reputation as a conservative icon due to his work in politics, his impressive jurisprudence on the bench, and his impeccable scholarship and academic pursuits. His leadership will be missed.”
Bork led Mitt Romney’s judicial advisory committee this campaign season. Apart from his judicial service, he taught at Yale Law School and was a writer and commentator.