REVIEW: Bork's Jurisprudence. The Tempting of America: The Political Seduction of the Law. Robert H. Bork. Skip over navigation
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Copyright 1990 University of Chicago.

University of Chicago Law Review

REVIEW: Bork's Jurisprudence.

The Tempting of America: The Political Seduction of the Law. Robert H. Bork.

Macmillan, New York, 1990. Pp xiv, 432.

SPRING, 1990

57 U. Chi. L. Rev. 657


Ronald Dworkin +



Although I have written about Robert Bork's constitutional theories before, 1 I agreed to review The Tempting of America 2 because he there sets out what he calls the "original understanding" thesis in a more complete and revealing form than he has attempted before. That thesis is unlikely to recover from his new defense of it, and his book may prove an important event for that reason. Bork also argues that law must be a matter of common sense, and that the flourishing of academic legal theory, far from a sign of law's health and liveliness, is rather a symptom of its decadence. That is a claim of independent importance, and I shall comment on it briefly.

I want first to make an overdue protest. Bork intends his book, among other things, to persuade the American public that the negative opinion many people formed of him during his unsuccessful nomination hearings was the result of deliberate lies and outrageous and crude simplifications, and that he is not, as some of those who campaigned against him claimed, a racist or a bigot or a madman. I hope that the book's popularity signals his success in that aim. No doubt Bork was the victim of outrageous distortions and fallacious, question-begging arguments. I do not think these misrepresentations played anything like as important a role in his defeat as he believes they did. Bork was defeated mainly because he challenged a style of interpreting the Constitution that has become part of the ...
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