Robert Bork, who died Wednesday at the age of 85, was a leading intellectual figure in both the law-and-economics movement and the originalist school of constitutional interpretation. His scholarship showed how antitrust enforcement actually stifled competition to the detriment of consumers. Here are some comments from those who knew him.
Robert Alt, president of the Buckeye Institute, and a former intern under Robert Bork:
His work in antitrust law was so influential—it reshaped the way that the entire legal profession thought about the discipline, and his book The Antitrust Paradox was listed as one of the most significant books of the last century—that this accomplishment alone would have merited his inclusion in the list of modern legal luminaries.
Yet Judge Bork’s influence is far deeper and grander than a list of impressive titles. Not only was [he] a transformative figure in antitrust law, he was keeper of the flame of Originalist jurisprudence and a true defender of our Republic.
He defended this nation’s founding principles at a time when these principles came under such sustained assault that many a weaker man would have been tempted to disengage from the good fight. That he never did is a testament to his willpower, love of country, and understanding that it is only by clearly articulating our principles that we can hope to defend them. [Buckeye Institute, December 19]
Eugene Meyer, president of the Federalist Society:
The conservative movement has over the last quarter of a century changed the discourse in the country and countered the arid ideologies of the collectivists and Communists and other leftists. Judge Bork has played that role in our legal system. He was a legal giant; a man of unsurpassed integrity, intellect, courage, and wit. His efforts are far from having all borne fruit yet, but for years he was practically intellectually alone in upholding our constitutional principles. Consider his scholarship and his contribution to the debate and discussion throughout his years as a Yale law professor and well beyond; his service as solicitor general of the U.S.; his service as a U.S. Court of Appeals judge; his powerful works including The Tempting of America and Slouching Towards Gomorrah and The Antitrust Paradox; and his role as a mentor inspiring the best of the next generation in all of these positions. Taken together, these accomplishments show that no one has had more influence in supporting and sustaining the constitutional principles on which one can build a shining city on a hill. [National Review, December 19]
He also had a sense of humor. As Michael Greve remembers, Bork liked his martinis without olives. “If I want a salad, I’ll order one,” he once explained to a waitress. [Liberty Law Blog, December 19]