Robert Bork

Uh-oh. We’ve drawn Judge Snyder. — Lionel Hutz, “Marge In Chains”

Judge Robert Heron Bork’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987 brought down a firestorm of protest from the Democrats, who saw Ronald Reagan’s move as an attempt to pack the high court with enough conservatives to enact decisive policy change, including the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade.

After Reagan announced his pick, it took Ted Kennedy a scant 45 minutes to take to the national airwaves with a harsh speech condemning the Justice-to-be:

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, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens. — Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA)

Ouch. As the debate over Bork’s nomination reached a fever pitch, a sly D.C. journalist named Michael Dolan got a hold of Bork’s video tape rentals and published them. Anything salacious? Lamentably no: Charade, The Shining, Sixteen Candles, and a lot of Hitchcock.

The muckraking led to passage of the Video Privacy Protection Act, which protects our video and DVD rental history in the event the Patriot Act doesn’t keep getting renewed.

And Bork didn’t get his Supreme Court seat, by the way—the Senate Judiciary Committee, then led by Joe Biden, shut him down. But The Simpsons used his image for Judge Snyder/Moulton, so the man may have immortality yet.

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