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ACLU Says White House Afraid of Bork’s Record

September 2, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday that the Reagan administration ″is plainly afraid″ of speeches and articles Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork has produced over the years.

White House officials ″have made a strategic judgment they can’t sustain the nomination based on (Bork’s complete) record,″ ACLU President Norman Dorsen told a news conference. He said the administration is trying to hide the truth about Bork, a federal appeals court judge.

Caustic exchanges between the White House and the ACLU have become a daily occurrence after the civil liberties group departed from its traditional neutrality on judicial selections and announced Monday its opposition to Bork’s confirmation by the Senate.

White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater on Tuesday accused the ACLU of playing partisan politics. He said the organization cited Bork’s ″political record and personal statements″ in discussing ″everything except his judicial record.″

In Wednesday’s rejoinder, ACLU officials said the Senate has the responsibility to examine all of Bork’s voluminous speeches and writings in judging his fitness to serve on the high court.

″Judge Bork’s judicial philosophy, as explained in his speeches and articles, is especially relevant because his opinions as a lower court judge are properly determined by the decisions of the Supreme Court,″ said ACLU executive director Ira Glasser.

Morton Halperin, head of the ACLU’s legislative affairs office here, added, ″The real key to Judge Bork’s philosophy is those extra-judicial statements.″

In Santa Barbara, Calif., a Fitzwater deputy, Dan Howard, declined comment on the new accusations. ″I don’t think I have anything to add to that debate. I think Marlin expressed it very well yesterday,″ Howard said.

The ACLU portrayed Bork as an extremist rather than a true conservative in the mold of some leading former justices. The organization said his public statements demonstrate he would permit local and state officials to abridge rights of privacy and free expression and uphold such regulations as constitutional.

The only previous time the ACLU has taken a position on a judicial nominee was in 1971 when it opposed confirming William H. Rehnquist, now chief justice, to the high court.

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