Bork Rejecttion Would Be 26th in History With PM-Bork Bjt
Oct. 09, 1987
WASHINGTON (AP) _ If Robert H. Bork is denied a seat on the Supreme Court, he would be the 26th nominee to be rejected and the sixth this century.
He would join John J. Parker, Homer Thornberry, Clement F. Haynsworth, G. Harrold Carswell and Abe Fortas as those who failed the nomination process in the 20th Century. Fortas was rejected as chief justice, although he remained a justice for several months.
Parker generally was considered well-qualified when nominated to the high court in 1930 by President Herbert Hoover. But a coalition of civil rights groups and labor unions lobbied against his confirmation, accusing him of insensitivity toward racial minorities and the poor. The Senate rejected him, 41-39.
As federal appeals court judge from North Carolina, however, Parker later provided some of the early civil rights movement's most important legal victories. The man named to the court instead of him, Owen Roberts, fashioned a more conservative record on racial issues.
The Senate did not balk at a Supreme Court nomination again until 1968, when Chief Justice Earl Warren announced his intention to retire.
President Lyndon B. Johnson proposed to promote Justice Fortas and appoint Thornberry, a federal appellate judge, to fill the vacancy.
A Republican-led filibuster eventually forced the withdrawal of Fortas' name, and as a result Thornberry's nomination never was acted on.
The Senate once before had denied a sitting justice promotion to the chief justice's job - in 1795 when President George Washington's nomination of John Rutledge was rejected.
When Fortas resigned less than a year after his promotion was denied, in the midst of a scandal that had not arisen until after the earlie fight, President Nixon nominated Haynsworth, a veteran federal judge, to take his place.
The same coalition that had opposed Parker fought against the Haynsworth nomination, portraying him as insensitive to those most in need of legal protection.
After 10 days of hearings, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-7 in favor of his nomination, but reports already had surfaced questioning his judicial ethics.
The most damaging centered on Haynsworth's participation in a case involving a company that did extensive business with a company in which he owned a one-seventh interest.
His nomination was defeated in late 1969 by a 55-45 Senate vote.
Nixon then named Carswell, a federal trial judge from Florida who recently had been elevated to an appeals court.
But criticism quickly focused on his alleged lack of legal skill and judicial temperament. In the spring of 1970 Carswell's nomination was rejected by a 51-45 vote.
Before Harry A. Blackmun was confirmed and took his seat June 9, 1970, as Fortas' replacement, the court had undertaken the work of its 1969-70 term with eight justices.
But the 13 months between Fortas' resignation and Blackmun's investiture was far from a record. A court vacancy once existed for nearly 52 months - over four years - when President John Tyler tried three times to name a successor to Justice Henry Baldwin, who died in 1844.