1963 August 31

Robert Bork, Yale Law Professor, Opposes Civil Rights Bill


On this day, Yale Law Professor Robert Bork published an article in The New Republic on this day opposing the civil rights bill before Congress at the time. The bill became the historic 1964 Civil Rights Act, on July 2, 1964, one of the most important laws in American history.

The article, “Civil Rights – A Challenge,” came back to haunt him when he was nominated for the Supreme Court in 1987. Civil rights and civil liberties groups fiercely opposed his nomination because of his previous position on civil rights and his later positions on abortion and the right to privacy. Bork’s article may have been more widely read in 1987 than when it was first published. The Senate rejected his nomination by a vote of 42 to 58 on October 23, 1987.

Watch a PBS news story on Bork’s Supreme Court nomination:

Learn more, read Bork’s own account of his failed Supreme Court nomination: Robert Bork, The Tempting of America: The Political Seduction of the Law (1990)

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