Robert H. Bork, the conservative nominee of President Ronald Reagan who was rejected by the Senate for the Supreme Court in 1987, died yesterday at 85 near Washington, D.C. Bork, a former Yale law professor and federal appellate judge in the capital, “inspired a generation of conservatives with his critiques of the liberal-dominated high court in the 1960s and ’70s,” the Los Angeles Times said. He spoke on a wide range of legal issues, which included criticizing the Supreme Court for extending new rights to criminals and opposing the death penalty.
Typical of the opposition to Bork was a letter sent by 32 law school deans to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which said in part that, “If Judge Bork were to be confirmed, his vote could prove determinative in turning the clock back to an era when constitutional rights and liberties, and the role of the judiciary in protecting them, were viewed in a much more restrictive way.” Criminal justice was one area in which Bork’s record was touted by President Reagan. Speaking to a law enforcement group while his nomination was pending, Reagan said, “Together, we’ve made great strides in the war on crime. A key reason for that progress has been the appointment of tough-minded judges. For the past 7 years, Federal criminal sentences have increased 30 percent overall. Judge Bork’s nomination is a crucial opportunity to continue our progress in the war against crime.”