Judge Amy Cony Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and will move to the full Senate. Democrats did their worst to stop her, including smearing her for her Catholic faith and even boycotting the committee vote.
Their despicable and bigoted actions have nothing to do with Barrett or her qualifications. They have everything to do with Joe Biden and his opportunistic poisoning of our judicial confirmations process in the 1980s.
Back in 1987, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) was running for president for the first of three attempts (the current one is #3). Biden was also chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when President Ronald Reagan nominated Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.
Bork was widely regarded as one of the leading legal scholars of the era, eminently qualified to serve on the nation’s highest court. Bork was also a conservative.
Biden, who had tended to position himself as a center-left moderate Democrat, had a problem and an opportunity. His presidential campaign had flamed out in September of 1987, under accusations that he had committed plagiarism. Specifically, he had stolen the life story of British Labor politician and parliament member Neil Kinnock. The proven allegation of rank dishonesty rocked Biden’s campaign and knocked him out of the race.
But he still had his post in the Senate, which offered him a national perch from which he could begin his political rehabilitation. Reagan had nominated Bork in July 1987. That process was ongoing at the time Biden’s first failed presidential campaign ended.
Rather than focusing the Bork hearings on the nominee’s qualifications, as had been American tradition for centuries, Biden worked with left-wing special interest groups and intentionally focused the hearings on personal and political attacks against the nominee, and by extension all Republicans. He led the charge as his fellow Democrats depicted the eminent jurist as a monster unfit to serve.
The Washington Post opined at the time that Biden was misusing his position, creating an Alice in Wonderland hearing in which the nominee was being pre-judged.
While claiming that Judge Bork will have a full and fair hearing, Senator Joseph Biden this week has pledged to civil rights groups that he will lead the opposition to the confirmation. As the Queen of Hearts said to Alice, “Sentence first—Verdict Afterward.”
How can he possibly get a fair hearing from Biden, who has already cast himself as the role of prosecutor instead of a juror in the Judiciary Committee? If there is a strong, serious case to be argued against Judge Bork, why do so many Democrats seem unwilling to make it and afraid to listen to the other side?
Even liberal Post columnist Mark Shields tore into the Biden Democrats at the time, dubbing Biden himself a “patsy of liberal interest groups.” That was prescient; Biden is turning out to be a puppet of the likes of AOC and the hard-left Green New Deal advocates (of which his running mate is a sponsor). Biden poses as a moderate, but he’s really an opportunist. Political opportunism has been the hallmark of his 47-year political career.
Bork never got his full and fair hearing. He was tarred and smeared by Sen. Biden and his left-wing accomplices. His nomination failed in October 1987.
“Bork” became a verb describing how Democrats trash every individual nominated to serve on the Supreme Court and other courts by Republican presidents. In one of their most shameful episodes, Senate Democrats dragged out and killed the nomination of Miguel Estrada to serve “because he is Latino,” and having a Republican (President George W. Bush) place a conservative Hispanic immigrant judge on the courts, from which he might someday ascend to the Supreme Court, endangered the Democrats’ racial electoral gambits. The Estrada nomination failed due to an openly racist strategy on the part of the Biden Democrats. They have never been held to account for it. We have Biden, ultimately, to thank for it.
Republican judicial nominees have faced such unfair hearings ever since, while Republicans have not subjected Democrats to similarly divisive and dishonest processes even when they nominate non-mainstream radicals to the bench. Biden started it, and it has carried through the decades since. As my colleague Tyler O’Neil wrote a few days ago, Biden remains pleased with his role in dividing the country and poisoning one of our most solemn Senate processes. He brags about it.
The spectacle we witnessed during the Clarence Thomas hearings, and the disgusting and disgraceful smears lobbed at now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh (which cost the Democrats several Senate seats in 2018), started with Joe Biden.
Why did he do it?
His own wife, Dr. Jill Biden, admitted at the time: It was mainly about Joe. “He needed to be vindicated (after his plagiarism scandal),” she said. “It was about Bork, it was about Bork’s politics, but it was also about Joe.”
Biden abused the nominations process for his own selfish ends and he still regards that moment as one of the greatest of his career. Too bad it came at the expense of the nation’s unity and respect for our fellow Americans, and our most important institutions. The Senate once handled judicial nominations with seriousness and comity across partisan lines. The judiciary itself was not seen as the all-important super-legislature that it is seen as now.
Biden helped tear all that down to save himself from slipping into political ignominy.