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Senate Rejects Bork, 58-42 : Six Republicans Bolt Party Ranks to Oppose Judge

October 23, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Senate rejected President Reagan's nomination of Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court by a 58-42 vote today, ending a long and contentious debate over a judge alternately portrayed as a brilliant jurist and a dangerous extremist.

The negative vote, which included six Republicans, was the largest in history for such a nomination.

Moments after the vote, Bork issued a statement saying he was "glad the debate took place" because "there is now a full and permanent record by which the future may judge not only me but the proper nature of a confirmation proceeding.

"A time will come when I will speak to the question of the process due in these matters, but that time is not now," Bork said.

Family Left Before Vote

Bork's wife, Mary Ellen, along with sons Robert and Charles, had been in the visitors' gallery earlier in the day but did not stay there for the vote.

Bork, who had been nominated July 1 to replace retired Justice Lewis F. Powell, became the 26th man in history to fail to win Senate confirmation to the nation's highest court, and only the sixth this century.

He became the 11th man defeated by a vote of the Senate. Others who failed to win confirmation had their names withdrawn, or the Senate chose not to act on their nominations.

The vote against Bork represents the largest negative total ever recorded for a Supreme Court nominee.

Earlier Votes

Clement F. Haynsworth's nomination in 1969 was defeated by a 55-45 vote. G. Harrold Carswell, the only other nominee defeated by a vote in a 100-member Senate, went down 51 to 45 in 1970. Both were nominated by President Richard M. Nixon.

Bork's defeat had been anticipated for weeks. A majority of members had announced their intention to vote against him even before the vote.

Six Republicans--John H. Chafee of Rhode Island, Bob Packwood of Oregon, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Robert T. Stafford of Vermont, John W. Warner of Virginia and Lowell P. Weicker Jr. of Connecticut--voted against Bork. Only two Democrats, David L. Boren of Oklahoma and Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina, supported him.

New Nominee by Monday

White House chief of staff Howard H. Baker Jr. told reporters that a new nomination could come by Monday.

At his news conference Thursday night, Reagan said, "I will try to find somebody who is qualified in the same way as (Bork) is."

Senate sources said the Administration is giving the most serious consideration to four potential nominees, all federal appeals court judges.

They are Clifford J. Wallace of San Diego and Anthony M. Kennedy of Sacramento on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; Pasco M. Bowman II of Kansas City on the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Ralph K. Winter Jr. of New Haven, Conn., on the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Bork's critics accused him of taking too narrow a view of the Constitution on protecting civil rights and liberties. They also criticized him for changing his position at his lengthy confirmation hearings to take a broader view of free speech and equal protection for women.

Supporters portrayed Bork as sympathetic to women and minorities but said he would not go so far as to make new law. They also criticized the intense but successful lobbying campaign against Bork by liberal groups.

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