Judge Robert Bork, whose nomination to the Supreme Court went down in flames in 1987 after contentious confirmation hearings, said for the first time today that he is opposed to Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Court.
“Ms. Kagan has not had the time to develop a mature philosophy of judging,” said Bork in a conference call organized by Americans United for Life.
“It is typical of young lawyers going into constitutional law that they have inflated dreams of what constitutional law can do and what courts can do,” Bork said. “That’s the danger of Ms. Kagan that she hasn’t had any experience that would lead her to mellow … the academia is not a place where you use prudence and caution and other virtues of a judge.”
Bork was asked about an article that Kagan wrote in 1995 that praised Bork and said his hearings should be a “model” for all future confirmation hearings. Kagan wrote that even though Bork was eventually rejected, the hearings presented an opportunity for the Senate and the nominee to engage on controversial issues and educate the public.
“Not since Bork,” she said, “has any nominee candidly discussed, or felt a need to discuss, his or her views and philosophy.”
Bork didn’t respond to Kagan’s article but said modern day confirmation hearings have “changed vastly.”
“They have become more politicized … the vitriol is really extraordinary and why anyone would want it to continue I don’t know,” he said.
He said he was initially prepared to support Kagan based on her hiring of Conservative legal thinkers while she was Dean of Harvard Law School, but since learning more about her he felt the hiring was just, “her way for running for office.”
“The one thing the republicans would gain by making an issue of the Kagan hearings is a little integrity for future battles,” he said when asked whether Republicans should make an effort to take issue with Kagan’s confirmation. He added that the Republicans would lose “their reputation for rolling over any time a woman or a liberal is nominated.”
Bork saved most of his criticism for Kagan for her praise of Judge Aharon Barak, the retired Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of Israel.
In 2006 Kagan praised Barak at an event at Harvard Law School She called Barak “my judicial hero” and said, “He is the judge who has best advanced democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and justice.”
Bork has written critically of Barak who he believes has an “extravagantly activist record.”
Bork said if Kagan is confirmed, “you will have a court that is much more to the left than we have today.”