Bork on Civil Rights Laws
blandsberg at UOP.EDU
Wed Feb 2 12:10:53 PST 2000
The question then, as now, is freedom for whom? Freedom for whites meant that people of color lacked associational freedom.
Brian K. Landsberg
Professor of Law
University of Pacific McGeorge School of Law
3200 Fifth Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95817
>>> Rick Duncan <conlawprof at YAHOO.COM> 02/02 11:22 AM >>>
Many years ago, Bob Bork wrote an article in the New
Republic warning readers about the "unsurpassed
ugliness" of the principle that underlies
"The principle of such legislation is that if I find
your behavior ugly by my standards, moral or
aesthetic, and if you prove stubborn about adopting my
view of the situation, I am justified in having the
state coerce you into more righteous paths. That is
itself a principle of unsurpassed ugliness."
Bork, Civil Rights--A Challenge, New Republic, Aug.
31, 1963, at p.22.
Bork has been stoned many times for writing this
article, but his defense of liberty is actually a very
noble one. He was not defending racism, he was
defending freedom of association and freedom of
choice. He ended his article with a prophetic
"The trouble with freedom is that it will be used in
ways we abhor. It then takes great self restraint to
avoid sacrificing it, just this once, to another end.
One may agree that it is immoral to treat a man
according to his race or religion and yet question
whether that moral preference deserves elevation to
the level of the principle of individual freedom and
self-determination. *If, every time an intensely-felt
moral principle is involved, we spend freedom, we will
run short of it."* Id. at 24.
We've come a long way since the first civil rights
laws. We have spent a great deal of freedom, and we
are indeed running short of it.
Welpton Professor of Law
University of Nebraska
College of Law
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
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