Judge Robert Bork, a noted circuit court judge and legal theorist who served as President Nixon’s Solicitor General and Acting-Attorney General, died yesterday at 85. He was nominated by President Reagan for the Supreme Court in 1987, and remained among the most notable constitutional experts for four decades.
Bork was appointed to the executive branch in 1973 as Solicitor General, arguing on behalf of President Nixon in front of the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Warren Burger called him the most effective counsel to appear before the court during Burger’s 17 year tenure. He would serve as Acting Attorney General until 1974.
Bork was appointed a circuit court judge by President Reagan in 1982. During his time on the bench, Bork’s legal theories in regard to anti-trust law heavily influenced – and indeed, have dominated – American legal thinking on the subject, and caused a significant shift in the position of the Supreme Court since the 1970s.
Bork himself was nominated by President Reagan to the Supreme Court in 1987, resulting in one of Washington’s most infamous partisan showdowns of the 20th century. Denounced by the left for his views, his nomination became the subject of a highly-publicized media campaign of both sides, each solid in their positions. Bork’s nomination was rejected, and he retired from the circuit court as well.
Bork joined the American Enterprise Institute, the noted conservative think tank, where he became a senior fellow.
Born in 1927 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Harry and Elizabeth Bork, he went on to earn his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Chicago, where he wrote for the Law Review. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps before teaching at Yale Law School from 1962 to 1974 and again from 1977 to 1981.
Bork is survived by his son, Robert H. Bork, Jr.