According to the Oxford English Dictionary: bork (verb) “To defame or vilify (a person) systematically, esp. in the mass media, usually with the aim of preventing his or her appointment to public office; to obstruct or thwart (a person) in this way.”
I’d add …”as a result of the public discovering (a persons) real views.”
Once upon a time in the 70’s, there was a Judge named Robert Bork. He was number three in rank in the office of the U.S. Attorney General. Watergate was going on at the time, and when the Special Prosecutor the president appointed insisted on listening to tapes of conversations that the President had, the president ordered him fired. The Attorney General knew it was wrong and probably illegal (it was), so he resigned, as did his second in command. Judge Bork became acting Attorney General, and followed the President’s orders. It was called the Saturday Night Massacre.
By 1980 all that had died down. Ronald Reagan was sufficiently impressed by Judge Bork’s conservative credentials and service to the Party that he nominated him to the Supreme Court.
Talk about an uproar…
Here’s what Senator Ted Kennedy had to say on the floor of the Senate about Judge Bork’s views:
Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is—and is often the only—protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy … President Reagan is still our president. But he should not be able to reach out from the muck of Irangate reach into the muck of Watergate and impose his reactionary vision of the Constitution on the Supreme Court and the next generation of Americans. No justice would be better than this injustice.
That came about because the originalist interpretation of the Constitution held by Judge Bork ran counter to the sensibilities of modern society in the latter fifth of the 20th century.
Just as they should here in the first fifth of the 21st century.
Among his beliefs, he opposed broad protections of free speech, he questioned rights to privacy, he opposed racially integrating public facilities, and he did not believe that the Constitution guaranteed equal rights to women and people of color. He vowed to vote to overturn Roe v Wade and several other landmark civil rights decisions.
Originalists are like that. Judge Bork mentored Justice Scalia, also an originalist, who believes that we don’t have a guarantee to privacy in the Constitution, nor should we expect that our movements won’t be electronically tracked without a warrant as long as authorities don’t touch our cars to do so.
Justice Scalia did a better job of soft pedaling his thoughts, as Judge Bork’s nomination failed by the widest margin of any in history.
He is now Chairman of Mitt Romney’s Justice Advisory Committee, and Romney’s stated choice for a Supreme Court Justice. Now think about that for a second…
Which brings us back to the definition of bork (verb).
What happened to Judge Bork may have been tainted by Watergate, but that’s hard to believe, as justice triumphed on that one years earlier, and it was known that Bork may well have been just caught between a rock and a hard place.
I think what happened to Judge Bork is that his ultra conservative, originalist views were just 30 years ahead of his time (and 100 years late). His judicial beliefs didn’t fit into an age of race and age and gender equality, of societal progress after 40 years of doldrums.
Those beliefs didn’t fit in, and they did him in as a result.
In Boca Raton, Mitt Romney showed his beliefs about the rest of us who don’t own car elevators. Those beliefs don’t fit in today either, and thanks to the faceless man who fills their water, he’s borked his own self.