The defeat of Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987 changed the way justices are confirmed today.

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Why Supreme Court Confirmations Have Become So Bitter

Producer: Barbara Dury
Associate Producer: Meral Agish
Update Producer: Sianne Garlick and Sandra McDaniel
Update Editor: Cullen Golden

President Biden is hoping for bipartisan support for his nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. But bitter battles over some recent nominations have set a different precedent.

When Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987, Bork’s conservative and often controversial views on civil rights, gender equality, the right to privacy and abortion were well known. As Judge Bork’s candid answers during his confirmation hearing revealed his conservative ideas, Democrats and even some Republicans became convinced that he should never sit on the Court. In the end, the defeat of Judge Bork’s nomination broke along party lines, setting the tone for the partisanship evident in the process today.

In the years since the Bork hearing, judicial nominees have revealed almost nothing publicly about their judicial philosophy, leaving Americans with little or no idea where they stand on defining issues.

Want to Know Where Supreme Court Nominees Stand? Don’t Bother Asking by Clyde Haberman

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