Ben Johnson

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Pro-life leaders: 'We mourn the lost hope which Judge Bork represented'

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

Syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell gave an impassioned defense of Robert Bork at the 1987 hearings. He was confronted by then-Senator Joe Biden.

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 19, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) -  Upon learning that onetime Supreme Court nominee and legal scholar Robert Bork passed away today, the pro-life movement mourned the loss of his towering intellect – and pondered the unborn lives that might have been saved had he been confirmed 25 years ago.

Bork, 85, died Wednesday at Arlington’s Virginia Hospital Center of heart disease.

The Senate voted against Bork’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987. The vacant seat was ultimately filled by Anthony Kennedy, now considered the court’s “swing vote.”

Kennedy became the pivotal vote in the plurality opinion partially upholding Roe v. Wade, 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling. 

Judge Bork expressed his opinion on two contentious issues – abortion and anti-sodomy laws – in 2003. Like many originalists he believed the federal government did not have a role in the issues which should be dealt with on a state to state basis. This opinion would have countered the 5-4 majority decision of Roe v. Wade.  “The Constitution has nothing in it that would prevent a state from allowing homosexual sodomy, from allowing abortion, or from disallowing homosexual sodomy and disallowing abortion. Those are topics simply not addressed by the Constitution,” he said. 

“The Constitution assumes that most of our laws will be made by the moral choice of the American people acting through their legislatures,” he said.

The pro-life movement has long believed Justice Bork could have led the court in overturning Roe v. Wade.

“We are not only saddened by the passing of Judge Bork as an amazing human being, but we mourn the lost hope which Judge Bork represented,” Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, told LifeSiteNews.com. “The past 40 years has seen too many lost children and far too many lost opportunities, like Judge Bork’s defeat, to stop the killing.”

“America has become an impoverished nation in so very many ways because of Judge Bork’s rejection from the Supreme Court,” Gerard Nadal, the Academic Dean of Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, CT, told LifeSiteNews. “With more than 56 million citizens aborted, marriage redefined, and liberal educational policies and standards that have placed America dead last among the industrialized nations of the world,” Nadal said the state of American culture will stand as “Judge Bork’s great vindication.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins recalls that Bork was “a strong voice for the role of judges as constitutional interpreters rather than legislators. If other judges reflected his understanding of the modest, limited role of judging, I have no doubt that the American people would be freer.”

The future federal judge was born in Pittsburgh on March 1, 1927. After taking a break in his studies to serve in the Korean War, Bork graduated the University of Chicago Law School in 1953.

Bork taught at Yale Law School, where he became the nation’s foremost advocate of an originalist interpretation of the Constitution. Sometimes called strict constructionism, Bork’s views denied that the Constitution was open to ever-changing meanings discerned by the current Supreme Court justices, the view that gave rise to Roe v. Wade. At Yale Law, he taught a variety of future decision makers from across the political spectrum, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Anita Hill, and John Bolton.

President Nixon appointed Bork Solicitor General of the United States in 1973, a post he held under President Ford until 1977. After a brief return to Yale, President Reagan appointed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1982.

When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell retired, Ronald Reagan nominated Bork for his seat on September 18, 1987.

The confirmation hearing marked a turning point in American political culture. While the Senate had rejected nominees Clement Haynsworth Jr. in 1969 and Harrold Carswell in 1970, neither man endured the vitriolic personal attacks unleashed against Robert Bork.

“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 for whom the judiciary is, and is often the only, protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy,” Ted Kennedy bellowed from the well of the Senate.

“Judge Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court exposed the ugly depths liberals will sink to advance their assault on our Constitution,” Paul E. Rondeau, executive director of the American Life League, told LifeSiteNews.com. The bruising hearings “will stand as an eternal reminder of the great personal sacrifice made by one man in defense of his country and culture.”

Bork, who relished intellectual combat, gave as good as he received. On October 23, his nomination went down to defeat by a vote of 52-43, with Republican Senators such as Bob Packwood and Arlen Specter voting nay, while two Democrats voted to confirm.

So heated was the treatment the judge received that character assassination received a new name: “Borking.” The tactics would be revived against future justice Clarence Thomas.

After Bork’s defeat, Reagan nominated Harvard professor Douglas Ginsburg, who withdrew his nomination after admitting he had smoked marijuana. Justice Anthony Kennedy ultimately filled the vacancy. 

Bork resigned his judgeship in 1988 over his treatment. He turned his intellectual might into a force for the Founder’s views of the Constitution through books, including Slouching Toward Gomorrah, and as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Ave Maria Law School.

“Rarely does one meet a towering intellect – someone who presents the hardest issues in a way which reveals their true substance. Judge Bork was such a man,” Americans United for Life President and CEO, Dr. Charmaine Yoest said. “In my acquaintance with him, I found him to be generous with both his time and wisdom, truly sharing his gift with the world.”

“Judge Bork’s scholarly philosophy of originalism gave influence and renewed life to the constitutional intent of our forefathers,” Rondeau told LifeSiteNews.

Although his hearings pivoted around divisive social issues such as abortion, Bork made a significant contribution to antitrust law. Michael H. Schill, a law professor at the University of Chicago, said Bork’s “legacy to the world of law and economics, and to antitrust law, cannot be overstated.” 

Former Reagan administration Attorney General Edwin Meese called Bork “one of our nation’s greatest legal minds,” who “leaves a lasting legacy of scholarly excellence and integrity.”

Outgoing Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner regards the judge as “a titan in the legal field.”

Although he appreciated a fixed precedent, Bork changed his mind on one vital point: He converted to Catholicism in 2003.

“His brilliant legal mind also saw the truth of Christianity, and in his later years Judge Bork grew closer in his relationship with Jesus,” Tony Perkins said. “His deep faith and trust in God is an example for all of us.”

Judge Robert Bork is survived by his wife, Mary Ellen – whom Perkins notes is “a fellow champion of the sanctity for human life” – as well as three children from his first marriage, Ellen, Robert, and Charles; and two grandchildren.

All original quotations for this article were gathered by John-Henry Westen.

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received more than $400 million in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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