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Robert Bork, the original originalist
Robert Bork, who died Wednesday, occupies a peculiar position in the pantheon of American conservative heroes. Most conservatives celebrated Judge Bork as the champion of constitutional values who was denied his rightful position on the Supreme Court by liberals bent on warping constitutional language for partisan purposes. Constitutional conservatives for the past 25 years, however, have gone on precisely the sort of judicial crusade that Judge Bork condemned in his major writings. While Judge Bork and such contemporary justices as Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas share a superficial commitment to constitutional originalism, the originalism of the conservatives on the present Supreme Court bears little relationship to the originalism Mr. Bork pioneered during the 1970s and 1980s.
By Mark A. Graber
December 24, 2012