chapter  9
20 Pages

Robert Bork and the Crime of Inequality

ByAaron Wildavsky

Whereas other failed nominations to the Supreme Court have sunk from public view, the debate over Judge Robert Bork gains in intensity as if the state of the nation, and not merely the fate of an individual jurist, is at issue. Far from settling the matter, the Senate's rejection of President Reagan's first choice for the seat vacated by Lewis Powell has spurred renewed efforts both to justify and to condemn what was done. In recent decades it had been customary for the Senate to approve the President's choices for the Supreme Court as long as they were qualified and of good character. The dispute over egalitarianism sheds light on the flap over the jurisprudence of "original understanding." Egalitarians do not believe that present inequalities can be justified by reference to the past. It is not often that a person's ideological trajectory becomes an open matter for public discussion.