BATTLE LINES FORM
The Bork nomination provoked strong reactions from both ends of the political spectrum. The left saw Bork as a threat to the gains that had been achieved in legal rights. Women's groups thought Bork would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, and civil rights groups believed he would undermine affirmative action programs for minorities. Finally, civil libertarians were worried that Bork would read free speech guaranties too narrowly and that he would reduce the wall of separation between church and state. Perhaps as much as his vote, liberals feared the influence that Bork's intellectual power might have over other members of the Court.
The right saw Bork's ascension to the Court as a culmination of the Reagan revolution. Conservatives believed Judge Bork would be a forceful advocate for the values they cherished. In particular, Bork had long railed against the decision in Roe v. Wade, which he termed an "illegitimate" usurpation of power by the Supreme Court. More generally, conservatives recognized that although Bork did not necessarily share their underlying beliefs on abortion or other social issues, he was fiercely resistant to "judicial activism" and would be a powerful force for upholding the authority of elected public officials.
A crucial part of the strategy against the Bork nomination was to delay the start of the confirmation hearings. Historically, delays have worked to the detriment of the nominee, especially when approaching the end of the president's term of office. A delay in Bork's case would give opponents time to prepare an ideological attack and to mount a grassroots campaign to "educate" the public and the Senate on Judge Bork's record.