I expect that the death of Robert Bork will produce a lot of commentary about how different the law would be today if the Senate had confirmed his nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987.
That’s an obvious reaction. If Bork -- and not Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was confirmed for the position that eluded Bork -- had been on the court in 1992, Roe v. Wade might have been overruled instead of affirmed in its “essential holding.” On the other hand, Bork in Kennedy’s place probably wouldn’t have prevented the court from striking down laws criminalizing gay sex in 2003, because Justice Sandra Day O’Connor joined in that judgment (though on legal grounds different from Kennedy’s majority opinion).
At any rate, look for liberal commentators to point to the Kennedy-for-Bork substitution as a vindication of the hardball tactics of Bork's opponents. It's a fair point.
Some of the attacks on Bork were perfectly fair (such as the late Arlen Specter’s critique of Bork’s cramped views about free speech). But others were over the top, notably Sen. Edward Kennedy’s assertion that "Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution.”