Peggy Noonan, as Bob Shrum rightfully points out, attempts a bit of history revisionism with her defense of the poor downtrodden Robert Bork and the reasons he was not confirmed for a position on the Supreme Court.
NOONAN: Mm-hmm. Look, I think that since the Bork hearings it has been very hard for young lawyers who want to go forward in the judiciary to realize anything but this. If you are colorful, if you are interesting, if you are forthcoming and share your thoughts and philosophy and views on the way up, when you get to your confirmation hearing for the court, they will put a noose around your head, hanging you with every interesting thing you've ever said. I, I happen to think the Senate Judiciary Committee has not done a good job of vetting and bringing out the thoughts of, of Supreme Court nominees for a long time. I think they should change. Let those nominees be forthcoming, let them speak. And I think this whole sense we've got that you can't say anything interesting on the way up ought to just go away. Oliver Wendell Holmes today would not be allowed on the U.S. Supreme Court because he said such fabulous, interesting things.
SHRUM: He wouldn't have, he wouldn't have to have a confirmation hearing, Peggy, because they didn't have them in those days.
NOONAN: Well, fair enough. Fair enough. But we do have them now, and they ought to summon thought, and they ought to respect individuality and taking a different view, and creativity, frankly.
SHRUM: Well, look, here's what should...
NOONAN: Those things shouldn't kill you.
Yeah...colorful and interesting. That's not exactly how I'd describe him. Here's an op-ed from People For the American Way back in 1987 explaining the reasons for their opposition to his appointment and defending this ad narrated by Gregory Peck.
BORK HEARINGS SHOWED HOW DEMOCRACY WORKS; A Very Small Poll Tax:
To the Editor:
You say (''Who Torpedoed Judge Bork?'' editorial, Oct. 13) that the critical factor in the opposition to confirmation of Robert H. Bork as an associate justice of the Supreme Court was the merits as ''ventilated in fair, exhaustive, sometimes brilliant hearings.'' We agree and are proud of the role People for the American Way played, with others, in contributing information and ideas to the debate.
But you also say there were ''exaggerations'' in an ad narrated by Gregory Peck and produced by our group to educate the public about Judge Bork's record. We disagree.
At Robert Bork's confirmation hearing to be Solicitor General, he defended the poll tax struck down in Harper v. Virginia, saying, ''It was a very small tax, it was not discriminatory, and I doubt that it had much impact on the welfare of the nation one way or the other.'' In his 1987 confirmation hearing, he held firm to this view, stating, ''It was just a $1.50 poll tax'' (committee print draft, page 129).
Judge Bork's statements on literacy tests are also a defense of their use -he characterized the decisions upholding Congressional authority to ban literacy tests as ''very bad, indeed pernicious, constitutional law.'' Under his theory, the courts and Congress would be prevented from taking any action, and the only remedy would be through constitutional amendment. While Judge Bork recognizes that the Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, one form of a right of privacy, at his confirmation hearing he reiterated his long-held view opposing an unenumerated right, ''I do not have available a constitutional theory which would support a general defined right'' of privacy (print draft, page 266).
Judge Bork was not running for the legislature; he sought a lifetime seat on our nation's court of last resort. We have no reason to believe, and we did not suggest, that as a legislator he would vote to enact a poll tax. Judge Bork's statements clearly indicate, however, that as a judge, he would defend a state legislature's ability to enact a poll tax. It is on his judicial philosophy, not his personal preferences, that his nomination must be judged. JOHN H. BUCHANAN ARTHUR J. KROPP Washington, Oct. 13, 1987 The writers are, respectively, chairman and executive director of People for the American Way.
Shrum did a nice job of making those points during the segment. Full transcript via MSNBC below the fold.
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