Saturday, September 07, 2019

LESSONS IN POWER Biden Wants to Work With ‘the Other Side.’ This Supreme Court Battle Explains Why. In the clash over Robert H. Bork’s nomination, Joe Biden’s moderate instincts defined a winning strategy. (NY Times)

Perceptive article about the legal and political acumen of Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. in keeping Robert Bork off the Supreme Court.  

Like a chess player, Biden bided his time.
Like a football player, Judiciary Committee Chairman Biden  "went up the middle." 

Like LBJ, Biden was a Senate lion, who got the votes of 58 Senators to send Bork to oblivion.
During the confirmation hearings, I watched on tv as my first boss, Senator Ted Kennedy, Best Senator Ever, nailed Bork within an hour of his nomination, Biden went for consensus.  

I listened to Biden on the little 'ole black and white tv in my office at the Labor Department in Washington, D.C., subtly giving Bork enough rope to hang himself, letting him list all the Supreme Court decisions with which he disagreed.  Bork exposed his ideological perversions in labile law review articles, and Biden skewered the S.O.B.

"Privacy is a fundamental right," Senator Biden said, invoking Griswold v. Connecticut, and letting Bork hang himself. 

Don't underestimate Joe Biden.  But for the "Borking," we would not have Roe v. Wade, or Gay marriage. 


In 1987, during my clerkship for USDOL Chief Administrative Law Judge Nahum Litt, I made a bet with a judge on the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.  When U.S. Department of Labor Adminitstrative Law Judge Lawrence Gray happily paid me off for our wager, he tendered a check: on the "re" line he wrote: "Bork? Dork."  The bet was for $5.  I never cashed the check. 

Earlier, U.S. Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge Peter McC. Geisey predicted that Bork would not be confirmed.  His Honor's reasoning: "He's got a beard, and he's funny looking.:"  I once attended a party at the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center, where Bork was in attendance.  While we were not properly introduced, I observed his unhealthy pallor, looking like death eatin' a cracker, smoking cigarettes and drinking.  Bork was an angry, nasty man.  So glad Joe Biden helped keep him off SCOTUS. 

From The New York Times:

Joseph R. Biden Jr. during the Robert H. Bork hearings.CreditCreditJose R. Lopez/The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. was on the brink of victory, but he was unsatisfied.
Mr. Biden, the 44-year-old chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was poised to watch his colleagues reject President Ronald Reagan’s formidable nominee to the Supreme Court, Robert H. Bork. The vote was unlikely to be close. Yet Mr. Biden was hovering in the Senate chamber, plying Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, a Republican of modestly conservative politics and regal bearing, with arguments about Bork’s record.
Rejecting a Supreme Court nominee was an extraordinary act of defiance, and Mr. Biden did not want a narrow vote that could look like an act of raw partisan politics.
“We already had Bork beat,” said Mark Gitenstein, who was then chief counsel to Mr. Biden’s committee. “But Biden really wanted to get Warner because he had such stature.”
Mr. Biden’s entreaties prevailed: Mr. Warner became one of 58 senators to vote against Bork, and one of six Republicans.
Alexander Burns is a national political correspondent, covering elections and political power across the country, including Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. Before coming to The Times in 2015, he covered the 2012 presidential election for Politico. @alexburnsNYT
A version of this article appears in print on  of the New York edition with the headline: Biden’s Radical Brand of Politics: Building From the Middle OutOrder Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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