Supreme Court Appointments: Judge Bork and the Politicization of Senate Confirmations

By Norman Vieira; Leonard Gross | Go to book overview

8
CIVIL RIGHTS

In dealing with issues of civil rights, Judge Bork found himself on the defensive from the very beginning. Shortly after the nomination was announced, Ralph Neas said that Bork would "turn back the clock on civil rights."1 And Senator Kennedy told the Judiciary Committee that "in Robert Bork's America, there is no room at the inn for blacks and no place in the Constitution for women; and in our America, there should be no seat on the Supreme Court for Robert Bork."2 Although Kennedy's remarks merely caricatured Judge Bork's views, they forced Bork to defend his previous opposition to civil rights laws and to a number of Supreme Court decisions on racial and gender discrimination.


RACIAL DISCRIMINATION AND VOTING

Senator Kennedy questioned Judge Bork aggressively about Bork's earlier opposition to the public accommodations provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Bork had said that Congress lacked any principled basis for protecting the freedom of blacks to patronize restaurants and hotels rather than the freedom of business owners to serve whomever they pleased. In an article published in 1963, Bork wrote:

Of the ugliness of racial discrimination there need be no argument. ...But it is one thing when stubborn people express their racial antipathies in laws which prevent individuals, whether white or Negro, from dealing with those who are willing to deal with them, and quite another to tell them that even as individuals they may not act on their racial preferences in particular areas of life. The principle of such legislation is that if I find your behavior ugly by my standards, moral or aesthetic, and if you prove stubborn about

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