The Ghost of Judge Bork and 100 Days of Trump
Well President Trump is 100 days into his presidency and the world has not fallen apart at the seams yet. Maybe it’s inevitable that it happens with him at the helm, but maybe not. A recent poll shows his approval rating is the absolute lowest that any President has been at this point of his presidency in history. The wall has not been started yet; the little kook with a haircut that would make Pete Rose ashamed is launching dud rockets in North Korea and has threatened to blow a United States aircraft carrier out of the water; Obamacare has not been repealed ; U.S.-Soviet relations are at an all time low; Muslims are still entering the country and President Trump has not sued the women who accused him of sexual harassment during the 2016 Presidential campaign. For all of the saber-rattling that the American people overwhelmingly swallowed, should we have expected more from him at this point of his Presidency? I would say no. I would also disagree with the President when he says he has done more in the first 100 days than any other President in our history. The American people need to get used to the “yuuuuge” way the President feels about himself. In my opinion, I feel he thinks just as highly about our country and it may be the only thing he loves more than himself.
I listed several of President Trump’s failures above but there have been some really positive things that have happened since he forced an early retirement on Hillary Clinton. He got us out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership; he’s reversed President Obama’s executive order on gun control; he’s slashed federal regulations and made it where every time a new regulation is put in effect, two regulations have to be eliminated; he placed a lifetime ban on White House officials becoming lobbyists for foreign countries and he lifted a boat load of regulations on the coal industry. The Dow Jones Average hit $21,000 for the first time in history and the American military gained respect again when President Trump dropped an 11 ton mother of all bombs on Islamic state fighters in Afghanistan. Not a bad start, but the crowning achievement of his Presidency so far, as far as I’m concerned, is the nomination and subsequent confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, to fill the space left by the death of Justice Scalia. Unfortunately, it took a bomb almost the size of the one Trump used in Afghanistan to get Gorsuch confirmed as the Senate had to pass rules making only a simple majority of Senators necessary for confirmation instead of the 60 votes required previous to the rule change. Now before you cry foul and say this was the GOP’s way of getting around the system, it was. BUT the Republicans only followed the lead of Senate Democrats who did the same thing in 2013 to prevent filibusters of lower court appointees. We learn well.
Senate Democrats who threatened to filibuster Gorsuch all were weeping and gnashing their teeth in honor of failed nominee Merrick Garland, the poor guy President Obama nominated to take Scalia’s seat on the bench just after Scalia passed away, felt that this was “divine retribution” for Garland and the fact that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky wouldn’t even allow Garland to be questioned by the Senate Judicial Committee. In President Trump’s words: “Wrong…” I think it goes back almost thirty years before.
Way back in 1987, President Ronald Reagan nominated one of the most able and most capable jurist of the 20th Century when he named Judge Robert Bork as the replacement for Justice Lewis Powell, who retired. Bork was a law professor at Yale Law School whose students included Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ambassador John Bolton and California Governor Jerry Brown. He had been Solicitor General of the United States from 1973 until 1977 and was appointed as acting Attorney General when he took over for Elliott Richardson who had been fired by President Nixon when he refused to fire Watergate Special Investigator Archibald Cox. Bork fired Cox. After his term as Solicitor General was up, Bork was appointed by President Reagan to be Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia District and then nominated to the Supreme Court by Reagan. Because Bork was Pro-life his confirmation was denied by the Democrat controlled Senate. Senator Ted Kennedy condemned Bork on the Senate floor and said,
“Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is—and is often the only—protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy … President Reagan is still our president. But he should not be able to reach out from the muck of Irangate, reach into the muck of Watergate and impose his reactionary vision of the Constitution on the Supreme Court and the next generation of Americans. No justice would be better than this injustice.”
It worked and the Senate rejected his nomination. Reagan then nominated Judge Douglas Ginsburg who withdrew his name after he admitted to smoking pot. Ultimately, President Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy who has been on the Supreme Court since his confirmation. Unfortunately, Kennedy was not the jurist that Judge Bork would have been had he not gotten “Borked.” Kennedy should have been a reliable Conservative voice on the bench but instead is often the swing vote and could go either way. In several cases, his swing vote has changed the face of America.
In essence Judge Bork begat Kennedy and the memory of the failed nomination of Bork begat Merrick Garland who in turn begat Justice Neil Gorsuch. One of the Senators who voted against Judge Bork was the junior Senator from Delaware, Joe Biden. Karma is a bitch, isn’t it?
Getting back to Trump, this is the one promise of his that I believed he would keep and virtually the only reason I voted for him instead of writing in Pat Paulsen or Harold Stassen. I have vintage campaign buttons of both and am not afraid to dust them off in 2020 should the Trump Train end up jumping the track. Stay tuned.