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Statement by Senator Robert Dole of Kansas, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary Hearing on the Nomination of Honorable Robert Bork . . . , September 15, 1987

Many members of Congress, including Senator Robert Dole of Kansas, supported Robert Bork’s nomination. Dole predicted the significance of this hearing, claiming it was a turning point in the history of Senate judicial confirmations. The polarized hearings convinced Dole that the Judiciary Committee should explore “the proper scope of the Senate’s role in the selection of Supreme Court justices.”

Robert Bork Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Statement by Senator Robert Dole of Kansas, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary Hearing on the Nomination of Honorable Robert Bork . . . , September 15, 1987 Statement by Senator Robert Dole of Kansas, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary Hearing on the Nomination of Honorable Robert Bork . . . , September 15, 1987

The Senate Rejects a Supreme Court Nominee

President Ronald Reagan nominated Judge Robert Bork, a prominent conservative judge, to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 1987. Bork gained notoriety in 1973 when President Richard Nixon directed him to fire the special prosecutor in the Watergate scandal. During his 1987 confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Bork refused to discuss his political philosophy, but his published record aroused liberal opposition. Bork’s nomination signaled a growing polarization in the Senate’s confirmation process.

Presidential appointments of Supreme Court justices require the Senate’s advice and consent. In 1987 the Senate rejected the nomination of Judge Robert Bork by the largest margin in Senate history.