Robert Bork was solicitor general under President Richard M. Nixon and acted as his attorney general/hatchet man of last resort in order to fire Archibald Cox from his post as special prosecutor investigating, well, Nixon. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus had resigned in quick succession rather than do Tricky Dick's dirty work. The series of firings and resignations as Nixon scrambled to escape the consequences of his crimes was quickly and indelibly labeled the Saturday Night Massacre.
Bork later became a judge in federal court, and in 1987 Ronald Reagan tapped him for the Supreme Court. He did not make it through the confirmation process, however, because his history and his strong right-wing political views caused the Senate Democrats to fight tooth and nail against his appointment, resulting in a 58-42 vote against him. Some of his more remarkable opinions:
- He stood up for poll taxes, literacy tests, and segregation in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (When he became solicitor general, he grudgingly admitted that the act had had positive results, but he has not, so far as I'm aware, ever expressed agreement with the underlying idea, which he called a "principle of unsurpassed ugliness".)
- In his book The Right of Privacy, he examined Griswold v. Connecticut (which ruled that Americans have a right to privacy) and concluded that no such right exists, because it is not explicitly set out in the Bill of Rights. (The problem, of course, is that the Bill of Rights does not grant rights but rather highlights ones considered particularly important. Americans are supposed to have all rights not specifically abrogated by the powers that the Constitution grants to state and federal governments. The possibility of arguments like Bork's was precisely why many Founding Fathers opposed the adoption of the Bill of Rights.)
- Combined with the above, his staunch opposition to abortion on religious grounds made it clear that he would move to overturn Roe v. Wade at the first opportunity. For whatever reason, it was abortion rights rather than the general right to be let alone that people rallied around most when opposing him.
In modern days, he has become known as a right-wing Fundamentalist Christian pundit and author, writing the widely reviled and parodied Slouching Towards Gomorrah to tell us all how we are going to hell in a handbasket and must wake up and be more like his bent-ass self in order to escape divine retribution and eternal damnation.
Robert Bork died on December 19, 2012 at the age of 85 from congenital heart disease.