Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork was praised for his...


WASHINGTON -- Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork was praised for his confirmation hearing performance Saturday by President Reagan and other supporters, while opponents of the judge said his nomination is in serious trouble.

The White House announced that Reagan telephoned Bork to commend him on his presentation during five days of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Reagan told Bork, 'You demonstrated yet again your qualifications to serve on the highest court.'


In a statement issued by the White House, Reagan said Bork 'has shown in his calm, direct and candid answers that he is eminently qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. If the Senate uses the standards it should -- integrity, qualifications and temperament -- it will certainly move quickly, once the Judiciary Committee hearings are completed, to confirm Judge Bork.'

Bork's critics, though, said after Saturday's session that the issues in the hearing continue to be Bork's views on individual rights and civil liberties and his credibility in changing some of his past views on these and other issues during his committee appearance. And, they said, they felt Bork hurt himself with key undecided members of the committee.


'There is no question the nomination of Judge Bork is in serious trouble,' said Ralph Neas of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. 'It was in serious trouble at the beginning of the week, and it is in even more serious trouble now because the undecided members of the committee have even more questions about Judge Bork than they did a week ago.'

He said Bork, by appearing to shift his views to a more moderate position, 'has raised the credibility issue.'

Jerry Berman of the American Civil Liberties Union said he felt Bork lost ground with at least two undecided committee members, Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz.

Berman said 'nothing in his testimony assures us that Judge Bork, if confirmed, would protect and expand individual liberties and equality for all Americans in the great tradition of the Supreme Court.'

Justice Department official John Bolton, who has monitored the hearings for the administration, praised Biden for his conduct of the hearings and said Bork had made inroads toward winning Senate confirmation.

Bolton said Bork 'answered all of the distortions of his record that were made against him. Everyone who watched the hearings has to conclude that Judge Bork is uniquely qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.'


Also on the pro-Bork side, Daniel Casey of the American Conservative Union and Patrick McGuigan of Coalitions for America, praised Biden for a 'fair and balanced' performance. They added, however, that they were concerned that the coming days of the hearing would be dominated by 'a parade of leftists,' with pro-Bork witnesses getting short shrift.

Casey said Bork's testimony was a 'grand-slam' against his critics and increased his prospects for Senate victory.

'Judge Bork has weathered the distortions and attempted character assasinations with aplomb and brilliance. No other man in America could have answered the range of questions with such forthrightness and clarity.'

Bork declined any comment to the press upon leaving the hearing room.

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