While this is the time of year to celebrate and to spend time with your family and close friends, it is also a time to remember those that are no longer with us. This year we lost Senator Warren Rudman, a pioneer of efforts to balance the budget; frequent GOP turncoat Arlen Specter, as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman he fairly guided the successful confirmations of Justices Alito and Roberts; Andrew Breitbart, the master Internet journalist who challenged the establishment; Tony Blankley, a key communications figure for the GOP most notably for his efforts for the Republican takeover in 1994; but most notably of all was Judge Robert Bork.
Judge Bork last spoke to the RNLA in 2005, at the RNLA organized inaugural luncheon celebration for Republican lawyers. Working with J. Caleb Boggs III, I felt very guilty asking a legal giant like Judge Bork to merely introduce the Bush Administration's former Solicitor General Ted Olson who was the "headline" speaker at the lunch. Judge Bork however had no such qualms. In fact, when I told Judge Bork he merely had to show to speak at the luncheon and did not have to attend the reception before the luncheon, he rebuked me and told me he wanted to attend the reception. At that reception, Judge Bork was incredibly gracious and spoke with any one of our members in attendance who wanted to speak with him.
RNLA's Chair Randy Evans and Co-Chair Heather Heidelbaugh released an official statement on Judge Bork's passing:
The Republican National Lawyers Association mourns the loss of Judge Robert H. Bork (1927-2012). Bork was a Marine Corps veteran, Yale Law School professor, acting Attorney General, Solicitor General, D.C. Circuit judge and United States Supreme Court nominee. Our condolences go to Mary Ellen Bork and his loved ones. He will be missed.
I would like to close by reversing what happened in 2005 at the Inaugural Luncheon. I will close with Ted Olson speaking on Judge Bork:
When the Senate in 1987 defeated President Reagan's nomination of Robert H. Bork for a seat on the Supreme Court, it blocked the appointment of one of the most superbly qualified individuals ever advanced for the court. Judge Bork had been a Marine, a distinguished professor at two of the nation's finest law schools, a partner in a respected law firm, solicitor general of the United States and a judge on a leading federal appeals court. He was the father of three children, a widower remarried to a former nun. He was a widely acclaimed scholar, respected as a brilliant, penetrating thinker and a formidable advocate. In an obituary, The New York Times, one of his archest critics, acknowledged that "no one questioned his integrity or intelligence."
None of that mattered to the 58 senators who blocked his appointment to the Supreme Court. He was savaged and then rejected in one of the sorriest chapters in American political history.
Those of us fortunate enough to know Bob Bork, the person, know that he was in many ways the very antithesis of the devil the liberals created. He was admired, respected and loved because he was warm, compassionate, generous, accessible, kind and very charming. Of course he was capable of an acerbic commentary on some aspect of modern culture or a sardonic takedown of a pretentious politician. Most of all, though, he loved life and lived it to the fullest, relishing intellectual challenges and enjoying his family, books, ideas, his incredibly lovely wife, Mary Ellen, and, of course, martinis.
Robert Bork, unfortunately, will be remembered in history books as the source of the verb "to bork," meaning to attack unfairly and dishonestly one's political foes. Those who knew him, learned from him, laughed with him, admired him and were inspired by his wit, wisdom and humanity will remember instead the man, the professor, the judge and the most loyal and engaging friend anyone could have.
Judge Bork will be missed.