By Alex Zank
The late Robert Bork, a U.S. Supreme Court nominee who served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, was among the honorees today at a law and economics symposium at George Mason University School of Law.
Senior Judge Douglas Ginsburg of the D.C. Circuit, in remarks about Bork today, spoke about Bork’s influence in the arena of antitrust law, including his interpretation of the Sherman Act. The Sherman Act, Ginsburg said, discussing the landmark federal antitrust law, left room for interpretation in the judiciary.
Bork “undertook an extensive review of legislative history to dig up what principles he could find that could lead the judiciary to decide cases in a rational way,” said Ginsburg, who led the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division for a stint in the 1980s before his appointment to the D.C. Circuit.
Bork’s “consumer welfare” thesis helped shaped the way the judiciary has interpreted the Sherman Act, Ginsburg said today. “In 1966 [his idea] was completely novel,” he said. “By 1977 it became the conventional wisdom of the courts.”
From 1982 to 1988, Bork, a former solicitor general at the U.S. Department of Justice, served on the D.C. Circuit. President Reagan nominated Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987. Amid criticism from liberal groups, the bid failed. Supreme Court nominations have been contentious ever since.
George Mason law professor Eric Claeys, who also spoke today about Bork, said there were some Senators who “weren’t as comfortable with [Bork] because he was such a force.”
Bork, who taught at Yale Law School in the 1960s and early 1970s, was for a time an adjunct professor at George Mason law. Bork died in December 2012. He was 85.
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