Robert Bork on Harriet Miers' High Court Bid
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
President Bush's Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers has endured harsh criticism for the past week, much of that from the president's fellow conservatives. The president defended Miers this morning on NBC's "Today" show.
(Soundbite from "Today")
President GEORGE W. BUSH: I made a decision to put somebody on the court who hadn't been a part of what they call the judicial monastery.
BRAND: One man who knows something about bruising confirmation fights is Robert Bork. He was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Reagan in 1987 and the Senate ultimately rejected him. Judge Bork has since become a hero to many in the conservative movement. Robert Bork joins me now to talk about Miers' nomination.
And, Judge Bork, you've called the Miers nomination, quote, "a disaster on every level." What do you mean by that?
Judge ROBERT BORK: Well, I mean that she is, I don't think, the person you would pick for the Supreme Court, but more importantly, I think this deals a blow to the conservative legal movement that's been building up for 20 years and now has a great many people who are qualified for the court but all of whom have been passed over.
BRAND: And you say that she is a disaster herself because she's simply not qualified?
Judge BORK: Well, I don't think she is qualified, no. And undoubtedly she's a pleasant person. Undoubtedly, she's a good lawyer. And obviously she's very loyal to the president. But there are thousands and thousands of good lawyers out there. I don't think they are--merely by being good lawyers are qualified for the court. Now it may be that she has hidden philosophical resources and knowledge of constitutional jurisprudence that we don't know about, but we certainly don't know about it.
BRAND: Some have wondered why conservatives are so upset with this nomination in that if she is showing her loyalty, she will undoubtedly rule with conservatives such as Scalia and Thomas once on the court.
Judge BORK: I don't think that's undoubted at all. We don't know whether she'll rule with Scalia and Thomas. We had thought a number of people would. More recently a Republican appointee, we had thought that Justice Kennedy would and he has turned out not to be that way at all.
BRAND: But how can you know what anyone will do or say once on the court? How do you know what kind of justice John Roberts will be, for example?
Judge BORK: Well, we know that John Roberts is an extraordinarily capable attorney, far more so than the average or even the high-average run. And we do know that he has intimate knowledge of constitutional law and philosophy and we do know that as a young man he expressed conservative views when he was working in the Reagan administration.
BRAND: But he did not express those views either in any decisions that he gave or during the confirmation battles.
Judge BORK: Well, that's one of the concerns I have because I think Roberts is a brilliant lawyer and we overlook the absence of a clear statement of views, but now we have a second person who has no paper trail, in fact, even much less than Roberts had. And I think that tells young lawyers, particularly conservative lawyers, that if you want to be considered for a position like that, you don't express controversial views. In fact, it's best that you don't represent any views, which I think is a great loss.
BRAND: Which is what happened to you.
Judge BORK: Yes. Well, I--yes, I had expressed a number of views, shall we say?
BRAND: I wonder--there's been intense opposition to Harriet Miers' nomination on the part of conservatives. Do you think that this opposition will go anywhere? Do you think it'll have an effect on either Miers withdrawing her name or President Bush, in fact, withdrawing her?
Judge BORK: No, I don't think--President Bush is a stubborn man or firm if you wish to put it that way and I think he's annoyed with the conservatives for opposing this nomination. I don't think he's going to withdraw it at all, and if he won't, I don't think she will withdraw her own name. So I expect that she'll be confirmed, but I'm concerned that once more we will have missed a chance to begin the reform of the court and we will have dealt a blow to conservative legal philosophy.
BRAND: Finally, your nomination generated its own verb `to Bork,' meaning to defame or vilify a person with the aim of thwarting his or her appointment to public office. So is Harriet Miers being Borked by your side now?
Judge BORK: I don't think so. Nobody's making up stories about her. Nobody's lying about her. What we're saying is we don't know anything about her which is true.
BRAND: Robert Bork is a former judge on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Judge Bork is currently a distinguished fellow at the Hudson Institute, and thank you very much for joining us.
Judge BORK: I enjoyed it. Thank you.
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