Romney Announces 63 Member Justice Advisory Team, Robert Bork Co-Chair

Conservative judge, legal scholar Robert Bork will co-chair Romney's 63 member Justice Advisory Committee. August 2, 2011

The news today from hard-working Mitt Romney and his campaign keeps rolling in and it’s…


Governor Romney has assembled a 63 member advisory team, including illustrious co-chair Robert Bork, to counsel him on a variety of issues. The formation of this stellar new team further underscores Romney’s deep commitment to the rule of law and constitutional governance:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday announced a team of 63 lawyers, co-chaired by conservative legal scholar Robert Bork, that will advise his campaign on constitutional and judicial matters, law enforcement and homeland security, and regulatory issues.

In addition to Bork, a conservative icon whose nomination by President Ronald Reagan to the Supreme Court failed in the Senate, Romney’s Justice Advisory Committee will be chaired by Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon, who served as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican in President George W. Bush’s administration, and Richard Wiley, a former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is a graduate of Harvard Law School. The choice of chairs and committee members seems designed to solidify his credentials within the conservative legal establishment.

Mitt Romney deeply understands that the rule of law and the integrity of our courts are essential components of our nation’s strength and must be preserved,” the three chairmen said in a joint statement. “He will nominate judges who faithfully adhere to the Constitution’s text, structure, and history and he will carry out the duties of President as a zealous defender of the Constitution. We fully support Mitt Romney’s campaign and look forward to working with other members of the committee as we advise him on today’s pressing legal issues.”

The committee, which will also provide legal counsel to Romney’s campaign, also includes other prominent figures, including former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, former chancellor to the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware William Allen and former Texas Supreme Court chief justice Thomas Phillips.

Romney’s statement:

Our democracy depends on a government that respects the Constitution and the rule of law,” Romney said in a statement. “Our nation needs a Congress and an Executive branch that are cognizant of the bounds of their powers and a judiciary that will strictly construe the Constitution and refuse to legislate from the bench. I am proud and honored to have the support of an extraordinary group of attorneys and legal scholars.”

(emphasis added)

For the names of those on Romney’s new Justice Advisory Committee, continue reading here.

Wow. This announcement, along with the announcement today that Romney’s campaign is shifting into higher gear, further demonstrates the planning, organization, and wisdom Team Romney is known for.

► Jayde Wyatt

~UPDATE from RightSpeak

This news even has a bit of an Iowa spin to it, according to the Iowa Independent:

“The formation of the committee could play well among some voters in Iowa, specifically from social and religious Conservatives who feel the Iowa Supreme Court has overstepped its Constitutional boundaries in the last few years, particularly in the 2009 ruling of Varnum v. Brien, which legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa.”

Mitt Romney, in announcing this committee, with members such as these, should go along way to assuage the fears of his critics, who think he’ll appoint “activist” judges, who legislate from the bench.

The significance of the Bork endorsement

I just wanted to follow up on the Bork endorsement. Being a law student, such an endorsement is especially meaningful to me.

I assume that most are aware of his nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987 by Ronald Reagan. After elevating William Rehnquist from Associate Justice to Chief Justice, upon the retirement of Warren Burger, and filling the new vacancy with Antonin Scalia in 1986, Ronald Reagan was given another chance to fill the court with conservative jurists. With the vacancy from Lewis Powell’s retirement in 1987, Reagan nominated Robert Bork. Of course that nomination was famously rejected by the Senate, leading to the later elevation of Anthony Kennedy to the Supreme Court (who subsequently upheld Roe v. Wade in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and wrote the opinion in such decidedly illogical cases such as Lawrence v. Texas and Romer v. Evans).

Bork is famously remembered for his failed nomination, but Bork was and has been much more influential in conservative thought. Indeed, Yale professor of law and political science Bruce A. Ackerman wrote in 1988 in the Harvard Law Review:

I begin where Chief Justice Burger ended [in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee]: when judged by normal personal and professional criteria, Robert Bork is among the best qualified candidates for the Supreme Court of this or any other era. Few nominees in our history compare with him in the range of their professional accomplishments — as public servant, private practitioner, appellate judge, legal scholar. Few compare in the seriousness of their lifelong engagement with the fundamental questions of constitutional law. Of course, Bork’s answers to these questions are controversial. But who can be surprised by that? Even those, like myself, who disagree with Bork both can and should admire the way he has woven theory and practice, reason and passion, into a pattern that expresses so eloquently our deepest hopes for a life in the law. The Republic needs more people like Robert Bork. 101 Harv. L. Rev. 1164

The endorsement of such an accomplished and influential person in conservative thought and conservative circles is deeply telling about the candidacy of Mitt Romney. Not only does it indicate the type of principled jurists that Romney could be expected to nominate for the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts, but it also is telling about the intellectual underpinnings of Romney’s view of conservatism.