The controversy over President Reagan's nomination of Bork has provided the nation with a civics and history lesson that is most appropriate in this year of the Constitutional Bicentennial. It is no overstatement to say that Justice Lewis F. Powell's successor will cast the vote that determines whether the Supreme Court functions as the protector of individual liberties, or whether it is responsive not to the rights of individual Americans, but rather to those in positions of power.
The American Assn. of University Women, together with more than 100 other organizational members of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, opposes the confirmation of Bork. A 1986 law review survey found that Bork denied access to individual plaintiffs in 10 out of 11 cases involving constitutional questions. When recourse to the courts is restricted, all Americans are vulnerable.
Bork's appointment would jeopardize a continuing Supreme Court role in civil rights progress. His legal actions have opposed fair housing, school desegregation and affirmative action remedies. He objected to rulings which banned poll taxes and voter tests for literacy.
This appointment will establish either ideology or balance on the Supreme Court. Replacement of the centrist Powell by an ideological activist would provide the swing vote to reverse progress and precedent in civil rights. AAUW believes the Senate must protect Supreme Court balance by defeating the Bork nomination.