With the death of Judge Robert Bork, we have lost one of the most distinguished and significant figures in American legal history. Most of us in the legal profession hope to make some small contribution to some area of the law. Judge Bork made profound and seminal contributions in our understanding of two important areas of the law – Constitutional Law and its proper philosophical underpinnings, and anti-trust law. He deservedly is called the Father of Originalism. His influence was so profound that even Ronald Dworkin, once a colleague of Judge Bork’s at Yale Law School, has been heard to say that we now are all “Originalists.” I’m sure Dworkin didn’t mean that in the proper sense, but I think it’s a measure of Judge Bork’s influence that the subject was even addressed that way.
One of the great joys in my life was getting to know Judge Bork and call him a friend. He was the first faculty member announced at the formation of Ave Maria School of Law. His agreeing to join our faculty was one of the most significant things we did. He gave us instant credibility as a serious institution and attracted for us outstanding law students. We developed a special course for him called Moral Foundations of Law, required of all first year law students. Although he and I team-taught it, I was as much a student as the first year students. I will sorely miss him not only for his contribution to the law and the understanding of our culture, but also for his kindness, good humor, and ability to handle adversity with grace and dignity.
Bernard Dobranski is dean emeritus and professor at Ave Maria School of Law.