Robert Bork, whose controversial nomination to the Supreme Court was blocked by Democrats in 1987, has died at the age of 84, National Review's Andrew C. McCarthy reports. Bork, considered one of the leading conservative constitutional scholars of his time, died in Virginia of heart complications. Bork's contentious confirmation hearing has two legacies: turning Supreme Court confirmation hearings into huge ideological fights, and the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act, which keeps people's video rental records private.
Sen. Ted Kennedy attacked Bork as a radical social conservative in a famous speech imagining "Robert Bork's America." Kennedy warned:
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, and schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of Americans.
TV ads warned against Bork's nomination. And a reporter for The Washington City Paper got access to Bork's history of video rentals. Bork hadn't rented anything salacious, but as On the Media explains, the act itself irked Congress, and lawmakers passed a law protecting Americans (and maybe themselves) from having their rental history accessed.
Despite his failure to be confirmed to the Supreme Court, Bork was celebrated as a hero by many conservatives.