If you are a person who has never come close to a law book or a courthouse, does Judge Robert H. Bork have news for you–IF he is confirmed by the Senate this year to become a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Because whether or not you have ever used the legal system, a Bork on the Court will swing the tenuous balance of the nine Justices right into Reaganland.
This objective is precisely why Ronald Reagan and Attorney General Elwin Meese choose this federal circuit court judge. Behind the imagery surrounding this well-known jurist’s alleged judicial restraint is a dream candidate for authoritarian and oligarchic interests.
Let’s look at his courtroom record and writings.
First, in Bork’s world, you are better off if you have an “Inc.” after your name. Just try as a consumer, a taxpayer, or a concerned citizen to haul the government into Judge Bork’s court and you’ll be met at the door with one of his favorite doorslammers — “no standing to sue.” So, a motorist challenging an Environmental Protection Agency decision regarding fuel efficiency has no standing to sue. But he would give General Motors or Toyota standing to sue.
Bork to put it mildly, is intellectually imperious. He was a Law Professor for many years and is bored with cases that he finds unstimulating. Personal injuries cases fall in this category. Americans exposed to damaging asbestos or injured in car crashes would not be well received by Judge Bork. He believes that such cases trivialize the federal courts which should be involved in more weighty matters than cancer victims or paraplegics.
The decisions written by Judge Bork in the regulatory agency area demonstrate a consistent inconsistency to his “judicial restraint.” He says no to governmental action, such as OSHA, the job safety agency when business interests are challenged; then he turns around and says yes to a agency decision when it favors a business interest. Were he to have a slogan, it would be: judicial restraint or judicial activism depends on who is knocking on my courtroom door.
In his book, The Antitrust Paradox, Judge Bork ignored the legislative histories of the antitrust laws which were clearly concerned with stopping excessive concentrations of corporate economic and political power. He wrote that only economic efficiency, defined in corporate terms, should activate the antitrust (anti-monopoly) laws. Were this judge dominant in the early decades of this century, we would now be saddled with even more huge concentrations of banking, agribusiness and industrial powers.
Presidential autocrats like this sixty year old jurist. He wants to abolish entirely the right of Senators and Representatives to challenge unconstitutional or otherwise unlawful activities that the Executive Branch engages under laws passed by the Congress. Bork, you may remember, as Solicitor General, implemented Richard Nixon’s order, later declared by a federal judge to be unlawful, to fire Watergate prosecutor, Archibald Cox.
In 1971 he criticized the public accomodations laws, but now says he has changed his mind. Black Americans are saying “no thank you.”
He opposed the Supreme Court decision establishing the one person, one vote rule in elections.
He believes that the First Amendment only protects “political speech,” which is a very extremist interpretation of Americans having the freedom to speak and to petition without being abridged or censored by government action.
Judge Bork will shift the Supreme Court into his view that never saw a corporate merger he didn’t like. Consumer class actions will be even more difficult to bring against sellers who defraud buyers. He will speak and write against existing rights to civil jury trials. Too many injured and ripped off Americans are bringing lawsuits, says Judge Bork, without a shred of data to support this exclusionary philosophy.
Civic leaders, Michael Pertschuk and David Cohen, summed up the consequences of Bork’s confirmation this way: “open season for bureaucrats and prosecutors; government 0A our backs and in our beds; unrestrained searches and seizures; closing the courthouse doors on women, minorities, and the victims of corporate greed and neglect; corporate power unrestrained, individual vulnerability; a world safe for monopoly; freedom to pollute, as many votes as money and influence can buy; big business bigger.”
Senate Judiciary hearings on Bork’s nomination start September 15, 1987. The citizen movement to block Bork will be the broadest based opposition to any Supreme Court nominee in our nation’s history.
He is a man for no seasons. Your Senators need to hear from you.