WASHINGTON — President Reagan attacked critics of Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork today as "far outside the mainstream" and predicted that "reason will prevail over politics" with his confirmation.
Addressing a convention of a conservative-oriented women's organization in suburban Crystal City, Va., Reagan said, "I feel like I'm preaching to the choir," and noted that the organization had collected more than 72,000 pro-Bork petition signatures.
Reagan, interrupted frequently by wild cheering and applause from more than 1,500 members of Concerned Women for America, praised Bork's testimony last week to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The crowd waved pro-Bork placards with slogans such as "Real Women for Bork" and "All Ladies Want Bork."
'God Bless America'
Singing "God Bless America" as Reagan arrived, many in the crowd raised one hand skyward. During the speech, many murmured "Yes, yes," reminiscent of a religious revival meeting.
In a curious ad lib, Reagan praised the conservative activists, saying, "You can no longer be ignored by the media or their elected representatives."
The group claims to have more than 500,000 members and bills itself as the largest politically active women's group in the country.
Bork's testimony demonstrated his qualifications, the President said, adding that Americans watching the televised hearings "saw not only a brilliant legal mind at work, but also a wise man who is prudent and fair."
Reagan said Bork had effectively beaten down accusations that he was a conservative ideologue.
'Argued Against Ideology'
"On TVs across the nation, those who tuned in saw something very different indeed," he said. "They saw a judge who impressively argued against ideology.
"It's clear now that charges that Robert Bork is too ideological are themselves ideologically inspired and that the criticism of him as outside the mainstream can only be held by those themselves so far outside the mainstream that they long ago lost sight of the moderate center."
Bork believes that "a judge should interpret the laws and not make them," Reagan said, adding that "I was going to start the next sentence with, 'I think,' but I'm changing that. I know you'll agree we need more judges like that."
Reagan noted that Bork has the support of Lloyd Cutler, a counsel in the Carter White House, and said a recent article by Cutler "threw that canard (about Bork's ideology) out the window."
"Mr. Cutler wrote of Judge Bork that his views were and are widely shared" by legal scholars and judges.
Reagan said that nearly one-third of the Supreme Court's caseload involves criminal matters, and said Bork would uphold the rights of victims as well as perpetrators of crime.
"Now, I don't usually make predictions . . . but in this case, I feel confident that reason will prevail over politics," he said. "Not only that Judge Bork will be confirmed, but that he'll go down in history as one of the finest Supreme Court justices our nation has ever had."