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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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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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