Last August, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announced failed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork as the co-chair of his “Judicial Advisory Committee.” Bork’s selection was a clear sign that, if elected, Romney will appoint hard right justices with little regard for how the Constitution protects ordinary Americans. Bork once described the federal ban on whites-only lunch counters as “unsurpassed ugliness.” He believes that the government is free to ban contraception outright. And he even thinks the government can outright criminalize sex.
In a recent Newsweek interview, Bork gives America a taste of the legal advice that Romney finds so compelling:
How about the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment? Does [Bork] still think it shouldn’t apply to women?
“Yeah,” he answers. “I think I feel justified by the fact ever since then, the Equal Protection Clause kept expanding in ways that cannot be justified historically, grammatically, or any other way. Women are a majority of the population now—a majority in university classrooms and a majority in all kinds of contexts. It seems to me silly to say, ‘Gee, they’re discriminated against and we need to do something about it.’ They aren’t discriminated against anymore.”
Statements like this one should make every American grateful that Bork never made it to the Supreme Court. Perhaps Bork never heard of Lilly Ledbetter, who spent nearly two decades earning just a fraction of what her male colleagues earned doing the same work. Maybe Bork is simply unaware that the average woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar earned by a male counterpart. But, in any case, it is clear that his perception of the world and the Constitution has no basis in reality.
Whatever Bork might have been, however, he is now nothing more than an angry old man who long ago resigned his federal judgeship and faded into obscurity. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is a leading presidential contender and could potentially be in a position to select new Supreme Court justices. Before anyone casts a vote for or against Romney, the former governor should explain clearly and without reservation why he selected a top legal advisor who believes that gender discrimination no longer exists and that the Constitution has nothing whatsoever to say about it — and Romney must be equally clear about whether he plans to appoint judges and justices who share Bork’s dismissive attitude towards discrimination.