Robert Bork, Supreme Court nominee, Pittsburgh native, dies


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Robert H. Bork, 85, whose last name became a verb during his controversial, failed attempt to be confirmed for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, died today at a hospital in Virginia.

Mr. Bork's passing was confirmed by his son Robert Jr., according to the Associated Press. The cause of death was complications stemming from heart ailments.

Mr. Bork was a Pittsburgh native and a student at Ben Avon High School.

In a 2004 Post-Gazette interview he joked about how his name had become a synonym for making partisan attacks on a nominee for high office. "That's one form of immortality, isn't it?" he told reporter Dennis Roddy.

He had faced harsh criticism from Democrats during 1987 hearings on his Supreme Court nomination, and he ultimately failed to win confirmation.

Mr. Bork, often known until his death as "Judge Bork," was a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, from 1982 until 1988. He resigned after his bitter Supreme Court nomination fight.

He had been a private attorney, Yale Law School professor and a Republican political appointee. When he was teaching at Yale, two of his constitutional law students were Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham.

He first gained wide public prominence during the Watergate scandal that ended with the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Mr. Bork was the third-ranking official at the Justice Department when he fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in the Saturday Night Massacre of 1973.

Attorney General Elliot Richardson had resigned rather than fire Cox. The next in line, William Ruckelshaus, then refused to fire Cox and was himself fired.

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ASssociated Press contributed. Len Barcousky: lbarcousky@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1159. First Published December 19, 2012 4:45 PM


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