Jack Clarke, columnist for the Vancouver daily, The Province, commenting on the nomination of Judge Clarence Thomas for the U.S. Supreme Court, considered with some horror that the Court might overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion-on-demand ruling.  Apparently he has just now discovered that the Supreme Court “has set itself above political opinion.”  “We want nothing like this in Canada,” he said (July 4, 1991).

Mr. Clarke does not seem to be aware that since 1982, the Canadian Supreme Court itself has moved into politics.

It began with the requirement that it interpret the 1981 charter of Rights and Freedoms.  This has led to such “political’ rulings as the Morgentaler decision of January 28, 1988; the decision not to hear the Borowski case on March 9, 1989; and the hasty judgment – the justices interrupting their summer holidays – in August 1989 to acquit Chantal Daigle even after she admitted she had already had had her abortion in Boston.

Thomas hearings political at heart

Winifride Prestwich

The senate judiciary committee hearings concerning the nomination of judge Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court are underway.

It is, therefore, perhaps timely to look back at the vicious anti-Bork campaign of July 1987, and the political character of the groups which organized and funded the propaganda against his nomination.

These groups included: National Abortion Rights League (NARAL); Planned Parenthood (PP); the Feminist Men’s Alliance; Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen Group; NAACP; the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); National Organization of Women (NOW); and the National Women’s Law Center.

While many of these groups are at present attacking the nomination of Judge Thomas, he is at least was spared the attention of the three senators who spearheaded the attack on Judge Bork.  Senators Edward Kennedy, Joe Biden and Alan Cranston, who not smelling like lilies, are understandably a little quieter this time around.

The leader in the anti-Bork campaign was Senator Edward Kennedy and the fight was dirty and effective.  What was at stake for the groups listed above was control of the Court in order to effect a new social order.

How dirty were the tactics used against a Justice of the United States Court of Appeals is well seen in the speech made by Senator Kennedy on July 1, 1987, the day that President Reagan publicly announced Bork’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a nationally televised speech from the floor of the Senate, Kennedy delivered this diatribe:

“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 citizen’s doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of [sic] government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy.”

Unfortunately, this outrageous tirade, not one word of which was true, set the pattern of the anti-Bork war.

The outcome proved that the issues at the hearings and the Senate vote were not judicial but political.