BATTLE FOR JUSTICE: How the Bork Nomination Shook America by Ethan Bronner

BATTLE FOR JUSTICE: How the Bork Nomination Shook America

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A well-written, thorough, but sometimes overstated liberal account that traces the journalistic story and historic dimension of the failed Robert Bork nomination to the US Supreme Court. Bronner, a Boston Globe legal reporter assigned to the Court since 1986, takes as his central focus the weeks in the summer and fall of 1987 when the Reagan White House fought for Bork against the Senate opposition led by Edward Kennedy. Crucially, the majority of Americans would rally to Kennedy out of a growing fear that the archconservative, intellectual Bork aimed to turn back the post-1945 legacy of protection for minorities and of expanded privacy rights of abortion and contraception. Kennedy stated that Bork's rigid ideology ""will tip the scale of justice against the kind of country America is and ought to be."" Bork's New Right supporters felt just as keenly otherwise--that their man would restore an earlier, proper America, mandated by strict Constitutional interpretation and not liberal legal license. The means to this conservative goal were reiterated by Bork in his testimony: judicial restraint, enforcement of only those individual liberties enumerated in the Bill of Rights, and the determination of discrimination on an individual basis, not on the basis of race, gender, or class. But liberals and middle America felt Bork's effort to suddenly make the Constitution colorblind and gender-free would only encapsulate a past history of discrimination against blacks and women. Bronner reveals many reasons for Bork's defeat--among them the White House's failure to take the fight nationwide. But, most of all, Bork attacked accepted American belief. Ironically, the Justice who was confirmed to the swing-vote seat, Anthony Kennedy, is almost certainly as conservative as Bork. Bronner misses this point but, otherwise, lends perspective to critical issues.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1989
ISBN: 140275227X
Publisher: Norton