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Old 05-15-2010, 09:29 PM
Bill Scher Bill Scher is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 83
Default Re: Bork

Originally Posted by jimM47 View Post
Bill said:

And what light did Bork's video rental history shed on his legal philosophy?

I'm not a big Bork fan — he and I take different sides in one of the movement's internecine squabbles — but it is hardly fair to say, as Bill does, that his nomination fight was merely over his legal philosophy.
Funny. What you actually find on that Google search page is this:

...For Washington's pundits, desperately grasping to retrofit some meaning onto a year of madness, the Bork video-rental story stood out as a seminal episode of the new ugliness that had swept over national politics. Commentators often suggested that the attack-dog style of 1998's politics could be traced back to that nasty first stone cast by the Democrats 11 years earlier. But future historians who sift through the documents looking for the famous "Blockbuster Subpoena" will have a hard time finding it--because it never existed.

The infamous video rentals entered the public record not through a Democratic subpoena, but via an article in City Paper, a weekly newspaper in Washington D.C. (The New Republic admitted this in a correction to Rothstein's essay: 2/22/99). Almost immediately, the paper was denounced by liberal groups and Democrats on the Judiciary Committee for invading Bork's privacy.

The ACLU complained to the editor of City Paper, comparing the exposure to breaking and entering. People for the American Way, which led the fight against Bork's confirmation, urged the District of Columbia to pass a law to make sure it wouldn't happen again. "We believe the release of such information is a clear violation," a People for the American Way lobbyist told the Chicago Tribune (11/20/87).

(Of course, it was easy for liberals to denounce the intrusion, since the "exposé" managed to reveal some decidedly non-scandalous movie rentals: A Day At the Races, Ruthless People and The Man Who Knew Too Much were among them.)

The Bork video subpoena has become a kind of journalistic urban legend--an easily checkable assertion that "everybody knows," so no one bothers to check. But it is also part of the larger fiction that Robert Bork's confirmation hearings were somehow an exercise in "personal destruction." In fact, the fight over Bork's nomination, noisy and voluble as it was, never departed from the issues of constitutional interpretation one would hope for in a debate about the Supreme Court.
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