Many remember, from 33 years ago, the vile conduct of U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy during the confirmation hearings for Judge Robert H. Bork. On July 1, 1987, President Ronald Reagan nominated Bork as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.
An originalist who believed that jurists should adjudicate according to neutral principles found in the text of the Constitution rather than legislate from the bench, Bork was then a member of the nation's second highest court---the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia---to which he was unanimously confirmed. He had previously served as solicitor general of the United States and as acting U.S. attorney general.
Infamous calumnies, malicious lies, and shameless demagoguery were the dishonorable means used by a notorious blackguard---the killer of Mary Jo Kopechne---to defeat the nomination, destroy the good name, and end the public career of an honest judge.
Kennedy’s demonization of Bork is memorable for its reckless disregard for the truth:
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....
Bork was branded an extremist, who Kennedy said was part of the "muck of Watergate," and was "hostile to the rule of law."
On Oct. 23, 1987, the U.S. Senate denied Bork's confirmation by a vote of 58 to 42. Believing his ability to continue as an appellate judge had been fatally impaired by the assassination of his character, Bork resigned from the Court of Appeals on Feb. 5, 1988.
Kennedy's Accomplice—What is often forgotten in this tawdry episode in American history, is the role of a second senator, who was Kennedy's accomplice and facilitator. That senator was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who permitted and presided over Kennedy's circus of destruction, who prolonged the hearings while interest groups pressured lawmakers and who then called for the vote which gave Bork a 9-to-5 unfavorable report from the Judiciary Committee. That senator joined Kennedy in defaming Bork and in misrepresenting Bork's record and, like Kennedy, voted against Bork in both the committee and on the floor of the Senate. That senator's name was Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
Biden announced his opposition to Bork before the confirmation hearings began, forsaking the responsibility of an impartial chairman, to assume the posture of a partisan prosecutor. The brief opposing Bork which Biden prepared for the Judiciary Committee was so mendacious that Bork would later say that it "so thoroughly misrepresented a plain record that it easily qualifies as world class in the category of scurrility."
Bork's widow, Mary Ellen Bork, condemned Biden, saying he engaged in "vicious political campaigning" and "presided over a rigged hearing full of an unprecedented level of lying and distortion of a man known for his integrity and judicial wisdom."
While Kennedy engaged in polemics, it was Biden who quietly lobbied other senators to vote against Bork. Kennedy was the virtuoso, but Biden conducted the orchestra. The modern politicization of Supreme Court nominations began with the smearing of Robert Bork by Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy.
Biden's Boast---Far from showing remorse over his shabby treatment of Bork, Biden boasts of it as one of the principal accomplishments of his career. In the New Hampshire Democratic debate in February, Biden claimed: "I almost single-handedly made sure that Robert Bork did not get on the Court."
How Many Abortions?---Bork was a skeptic of the invented right to (sexual) privacy, which formed the basis of of both Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade. Had he been confirmed, Bork would have been the likely fifth vote on the Supreme Court---along with William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Byron White---to overturn Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992. Instead, with the culturally conforming, ideologically malleable and intellectually mediocre Anthony Kennedy as Reagan's ultimate choice for the high court, Roe was upheld and sustained, and remains the law of the land today.
Since Roe was handed down in 1973, there have been nearly 62 million surgical and so-called medical abortions in the United States. The number of chemical abortions of embryonic human beings caused by hormonal contraceptives is potentially higher, geometrically, but the number is known only to God.
When the Casey decision upheld Roe in 1992, the number of surgical and medical abortions was 24.1 million. That means that nearly 38 million abortions have been perpetrated since the missed opportunity to end Roe v. Wade in 1992.
It is speculative to conjecture about how many lives would have been saved had Roe been overturned in the early 1990s. The regulation of abortion would have been returned to the fifty states. Some states would have prohibited or comprehensively restricted abortion, while others would have continued the regime of legalization, lack of restriction and subsidy.
One would also have to take into account the interstate commerce in abortion, as some women would have crossed state lines to procure an abortion, just as thousands of Irish women traveled to England, prior to 2019, to kill their pre-born children.
Nonetheless, it is logical to assume that, if Roe had been undone by Robert Bork 28 years ago, the number of abortions in this country would be less than 62 million, and, in all probability, it would be less by several million.
Joe Biden and the late Ted Kennedy must be judged, therefore, as two of the most lethal enablers of the mass killing of innocent children in modern history.
To answer the question posed at the beginning of this essay: how many abortions is Joe Biden responsible for? We cannot be precise, but the horrific number is likely in seven, and possibly, eight figures. Biden's hands are drenched in innocent blood "which crieth from earth to heaven."
May God save the United States of America!
CJ Doyle is executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts.