The Corner

Thoughts on Bork’s Coercing Virtue

Robert Bork has been justly lauded in these pages as one of America’s greatest legal thinkers in the fields of antitrust and constitutional law. His major work and books have been in this area. And after the disgraceful nomination fight, he examined America’s culture war with powerful insight. My favorite book of the judge’s, however, is one only slightly eluded to in the past days Coercing Virtue: The Worldwide Rule of Judges (John Yoo mentioned it in NRO’s Symposium for Judge Bork).  

In the 2003 book, Judge Bork wrote: ”Judicial imperialism is manifest everywhere, from the United States to Germany to Israel, from Scandinavia to Canada to Australia, and it is now the practice of international tribunals. The problem is not created simply by a few unfortunate judicial appointments, but by a deeper cause and one more difficult to combat—the transnational culture war.” He points out this transnational “New Class” class is waging political war against consensual government throughout the West, with the aid of American lawyers and judges.

A short, very clearly written, concise book of 139 pages, Coercing Virtue discusses New Class–promoted judicial activism in Israel, Canada, Europe, the U.S. and international bodies. It is in this book that I first learned that the president of Israeli Supreme Court (the most activist in the world) once declared, “The judge must sometimes depart the confines of his legal system and channel into it fundamental values not yet found in it.” This same Israeli Supreme Court essentially chooses it own members and has, in Robert  Bork’s words, “wrested control of the attorney-general from the executive branch.”

Most significantly, Coercing Virtue is an evergreen book that will continue to provide powerful arguments for Americans and all our friends across the world who are locked in a political struggle with a New Class that seeks to diminish democratic self-government in the name of a “global rule of law,” which would basically mean, as Judge Bork put it, “the worldwide rule of judges.” 


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