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Remembering Justice Bork

September 25, 2015

I lived at the Watergate in Washington D.C., during the 1980s.

The city came alive in the spring. The daffodils and azaleas were in full bloom, and so was the migration of Canada geese looking for a private and tranquil place to hatch their goslings.

One of the more popular spots for these birds was the Dalecarlia Reservoir and Treatment Plant on MacArthur Blvd. near Georgetown.

It is a protected from people by a tall and imposing wire fence, and the geese had everything there that they needed including fresh water, lush grass, and plenty of good locations to build a safe nest.

Still, they were within sight from cars and passersby, so people like me would stop by and feed them through the fence. They especially liked bread and crackers.

It was something I did weekly. Stopping my car along the boulevard, I would spend a few minutes feeding and watching over these beautiful birds. One morning, I stopped with a stash of bread and crackers and began to feed a Mother Goose and her six goslings. The babies had just been hatched and were as cute as can be; about the size of tennis balls.

It was a lovable sight, and I was a curious discovery for these six little offsprings, as well.

I had been feeding them for a short while when another person parked their car and headed in my direction, seemingly with the same thought in mind.

The man stood over my shoulder, watching the geese with interest and delight. When he commented on what we were witnessing, the voice sounded familiar.

The person who joined me was Federal Judge and legal scholar Robert H. Bork. He had seen the geese from the road; pulled his car out of traffic, parked it along MacArthur Blvd., and walked over to see them close up.

We exchanged words about what we were watching and the wonderment of it all. I thought at the time how interested, curious, and expressive he was about them.

A few minutes later he was back in his car and drove off.

Judge Bork was a Yale law professor, Solicitor General, Acting Attorney General of the United States, and judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Court. In 1987, he was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan and after a bruising Senate debate was not confirmed. He was an iconic legal conservative and universally acknowledged public policy scholar.

Judge Bork passed away a few years ago at the age of 85 and is remembered for many things. But for me, he is remembered for his interest and wonderment of a mother Canada goose raising her six baby goslings on a tranquil morning in Washington, DC.

I have the feeling we didn't know everything there was to know about Judge Bork.