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Packwood Opposes Bork, 1st Gop Senator to Defect : Willing to Join Senate Filibuster

September 21, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Ore.) said today he will vote against the Supreme Court nomination of Robert H. Bork and would be willing to take part in a filibuster to block a vote on the Senate floor.

A spokesman in the senator's office said Packwood is the first Republican senator to declare that he will vote against the nomination.

In a statement, Packwood said Bork threatens the right of privacy established by the Supreme Court in landmark cases such as Griswold vs. Connecticut, which struck down a law prohibiting sale of birth control devices, and Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion.

"I am convinced that Judge Bork is so strongly opposed to the constitutional right to privacy--he thinks it has utterly no constitutional basis--that he will do everything possible to cut and trim and eliminate, if possible, many of those rights that are protected," said Packwood, a supporter of abortion rights.

Bork's nomination now is before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which must first vote on the selection before it goes to the Senate floor. Packwood, who is not a member of the committee, promised he would join a filibuster on the Senate floor should one be started in an effort to block Bork's confirmation.

Cites Thurmond Precedent

In making his filibuster promise, Packwood cited a successful filibuster led by Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) against Justice Abe Fortas, nominated to be chief justice in 1968 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Thurmond is one of Bork's key supporters on the Judiciary Committee.

Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young today attacked Bork as "a protector of privilege and power rather than opportunity and freedom."

Had Bork's views prevailed in the United States, Young testified, "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would not be a venerated national hero. He would instead be serving a jail sentence in Alabama" for advocating social change.

Young, a former aide to King, added: "I might have been branded a terrorist and jailed for my participation in the civil rights movement instead of becoming the first black elected to Congress from Atlanta in more than 100 years."

Young was among a parade of prominent witnesses beginning testimony for and against Bork as the Judiciary Committee continued its hearings on the nomination.

Opposition also came from former Transportation Secretary William T. Coleman Jr., who served in the Gerald R. Ford Administration. He said the nominee should be turned down on the grounds that Bork has rejected high court reasoning in landmark civil rights and personal liberty cases.

Earlier Stance Questioned

Coleman was quizzed by committee Republicans about his participation in the American Bar Assn. investigation that resulted in the ABA's giving Bork a top rating when he was nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1982.

Coleman said that rating was for a lower court, and the two jobs are not the same.

Former Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-Tex.) also testified against Bork, saying she found fault with his comments that he disagreed with the high court's reasoning in a number of cases that benefited women and minorities--including the one-person, one-vote decisions.

"A Borkian view is 'I don't like the reasoning,' " she said. "When I hear that my eyes glaze over."

She testified that the Supreme Court "is the last bulwark of our freedoms," and she added that if continued progress is to be made, "a new justice should help us stay the course, not abort the course."

The Democratic-controlled Senate is sharply divided over Bork's nomination with leaders saying the outcome of the battle is too close to call. A final Senate roll call is not expected until October.

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