Statement on the Failure of the Senate to Confirm the Supreme Court Nomination of Robert H. Bork

 

October 23, 1987

 

I am saddened and disappointed that the Senate has bowed today to a campaign of political pressure and has turned down the nomination of Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Warren Burger said that he could not recall a more qualified nominee in the past 50 years. The highest Court in our land will not enjoy the services of one of the finest men ever put forward for a place on its bench. Judge Bork will be vindicated in history.

 

Alexander Hamilton wrote that ``the complete independence of the courts of justice is . . . essential in . . . [the] Constitution.'' The framers of our Constitution believed that the judicial branch should be removed from politics and that its only goal should be the fair and impartial administration of justice. But in the last few months, the confirmation of a judicial nominee has become a spectacle of misrepresentation and single-issue politics. To allow this unprecedented practice to become the rule would jeopardize the integrity and independence of the American system of justice. All Americans have a stake in making sure that the confirmation process is never distorted like this again. Let me just add that those Senators who stood up today for Judge Bork and for a judiciary free of politics have my gratitude and respect.

 

My next nominee for the Court will share Judge Bork's belief in judicial restraint: that a judge is bound by the Constitution to interpret laws, not make them. In our democracy, it is the elected representatives of the people, not unelected judges, who make laws. He or she will share my belief in judicial restraint. He or she will share my belief that the courts of law must administer fair and firm justice to criminals and must show compassion to the victims of crime. I will seek a nominee who understands the dangers of judicial license and leniency in the courtroom. This is the kind of jurist the American people want on the Supreme Court. This is the kind of jurist the framers of our Constitution envisioned sitting on the Supreme Court. This is the kind of jurist I am determined to appoint to the Supreme Court.