Friday, June 25, 2010
The Hearings of Robert Bork
I spent a lot of time watching the hearing. Bork approached the Committee in his role as a Professor of the Law and was not unwilling to engage in a highly theoretical discussion and provided very candid views of where he stood on the various issues like original intent, which, since it is based on historical interpretation and all the complexity involved in the relative weight of the evidences that history itself provides, turns out to be a sort of quicksand. A quicksand- a moving target subject to the vagaries of time and circumstance- that the authors of the Constitution themselves had to deal with and were not able to resolve in an entirely satisfactory manner. So how could Bork presume to do so himself?
There is rarely an "absolute" answer to any of the really difficult questions which, especially in the atmosphere generated by party politics ( as the 'Founding Fathers' clearly recognized) and special- interest pressure groups using the instruments of mass media, quickly take on the aspect of " a can of worms". An additional difficulty was that Bork himself was not a particularly attractive person. Today, nominees try not to "lecture" Senators on Constitutional Law but every decision they end up making involves taking a stand on the questions raised by Bork in those hearings and many have views very similar to those he expressed at the time.
The above being the reason I would prefer a Judge ( and a President for that matter) who is broadly educated in the Humanities- History, Literature, Art- in which the formal study of the Law is a part- but not perhaps not the whole parcel. A Justice who has a personal sense of the pain, human misery- perpetrator and victim alike- of those who find themselves exposed to the necessity of bringing their problems and frustrations before a Court and the great difficulty of obtaining justice- blind and impartial- in such circumstances these or on any of the days in our brief lives on this planet. It ought to be remembered more often that, at the end, regardless of any degree of guilt or innocence, the final verdict for each and everyone of us is a capital one, and, at least as far as anyone really knows with scientific certainty, of the exact same character and duration.