Bork: The Result of Sham Consultation

We’ve previously discussed how President Bill Clinton’s close consultation with Sen. Orrin Hatch — the ranking minority member on the Judiciary Committee at the time — lead to swift, bipartisan confirmations of Breyer and Ginsburg. In the 1992 book “Matters of Principle,” former Biden counsel Mark Gitenstein discusses the sham consultation process Reagan employed for the Bork nomination.

Decide who you really want in advance:

Baker and Meese spoke over the weekend and agreed to meet on Monday by the end of that meeting Bork was the next nominee to the Supreme Court unless he met determined and effective opposition on the Hill…(pg. 35)

After already making your choice, present the minority with a fake list of “potential” candidates:

Baker and Meese would take a pro forma list of nominees up to share with Biden and the Senate leadership In the meeting, Meese and Baker presented Biden and Byrd with a list of ten nominees, appropriately sprinkled with blacks and women. Some names were included only to make the list appear bipartisan. (pg. 36)

When the objections are raised, ignore them:

When they got to Bork, it was clear they had reached the real purpose of the meeting


Baker pressed on: “What’s the problem Joe.”
“His views. I’m worried where he will take the court.”
Neither Meese nor Baker responded


[Biden] interrupted, “if you go ahead with Bork, it’s going to be a longer summer.”

Meese and Baker were satisfied as the meeting broke up. They had not asked Biden directly what he would do on Bork, but it should have been obvious. But then again it did not seem to matter to them…(pg. 36)

If Bush employs a similar consultation strategy, expect a similar result.