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The Tempting of America

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  313 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Judge Bork shares a personal account of the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on his nomination as well as his view on politics versus the law.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published January 1st 1997 by Free Press (first published 1989)
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Jun 29, 2008 Werner rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in American government and public policy
Shelves: other-nonfiction
The development, over a period of thousands of years, of democracy --the idea that the people of a nation should ultimately rule themselves through laws made by elected representatives responsible to them-- has to rank as one of the major achievements of Western civilization. It's closely related to a second major Western achievement: the concept of the rule of law, the idea that law is binding on everybody and that the powerful can't simply ignore or defy it whenever they want to. And since the ...more
Oliver Bateman
Nov 06, 2014 Oliver Bateman rated it really liked it
Bork's minimalist and indeed somewhat admirable approach to con law, perhaps better understood as "restraint" in the Wilkinsonian style, is presented along with a lengthy recap of his confirmation hearings. Bork, who had the misfortune of bringing with him a complicated and lengthy track record, takes aim at the critics who misrepresented it. Although a deserving choice for the Court (and I say this as a Democrat!), Bork refuses to acknowledge his own failings: yes, his opponents distorted his r ...more
Doug May
Nov 28, 2009 Doug May rated it really liked it
Very revealing insights into the confirmation debacle that I personally listened to from gavel to gavel. The late Edward Kennedy and Joe Biden are exposed for the rogue and bafoon the respectively was/is.
Rex Libris
Feb 08, 2014 Rex Libris rated it really liked it
In this work Judge Bork examines how law is corrupted when judges allow political and personal value preferences to substitute themselves for the original intentions founded in the constitution. In disregard the constitution, we lose the rule of law and replace it with the rule of men. The rule of men leads ultimately to a collapse in the basis of law, as it simply becomes what whatever any judge wants it to be that day.

Bork gives a history of different periods in the life of the courts where ju
Oct 15, 2016 Louis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written more than a quarter century ago, "The Tempting of America" can now be acknowledged as a prophetic treatise on the dangers of allowing the Constitution to be rewritten by judicial fiat for the purposes of achieving through the courts what a self-appointed cultural/intellectual elite could not achieve through the democratic process.

Though his confirmation hearings occurred just two years after President Ronald Reagan appointed, and the Senate unanimously confirmed, Justice Antonin Scalia
Jun 14, 2008 Andrea rated it liked it
Shelves: law
This is the HARDEST book I have ever tried to read and the back cover said it was the most understandable book ever written on the law. I gave up but I did learn some interesting things before I did. I learned that the high courts decision in Roe vs. Wade was not based on an explicit constitutional right but was distorted from the right to privacy. The author, a high judge in Washington D.C, claims that the courts are to interpret the Constitution not make laws. The laws should be made by the Le ...more
Jun 07, 2009 Vivencio rated it liked it
never thought i'd relish reading a book i was so prepared to dislike. would never look at 'substantive due process' and the 'equal protection clause' with the same reverential attitude i acquired from those long ago constitutional law classes.
Jun 04, 2009 Myron rated it really liked it
Strict construction of the US Constitution is a principle that is dying. Positivists on the bench are nullifying the values of the country's founding and usurping the States who are the only rightful amenders. A good read to law and government students and cultural documentarians.
Charles Blumberg
Nov 16, 2011 Charles Blumberg rated it liked it
Should be required reading for every political science, us gov't, and law student. Part I and III are a good read...Part II is a little more tedious and harder to read for someone from a non-legal background.
Oct 11, 2008 Brian rated it it was amazing
A must read for anyone who wants to understand the nuts and bolts of our political battles over judges and the Supreme Court. Agree with him or not, you will understand the issues much better.
Thomas Bundy
Jul 30, 2011 Thomas Bundy rated it it was amazing
Unbelievable book. Best I have read on Constitutional law.
Apr 16, 2009 Steven rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Complaints? This book is a heavy, intellectual read, not for the faint of heart. It merits attention and study--but it will reward your efforts ten-fold.

Now for the good stuff: After I read Bork's book, I told fellow law students there were few law school courses I would not trade for it. I only wish I had read it before sitting through Constitutional Law.

Yet the book would be worth the reading for anyone interested in the law. It is likely the most complete and well-reasoned statement of the
Jan 06, 2017 Jay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Bork outlines a logical and powerful defense of an originalism interpretation of the Constitution, warning of the dangers of an increasingly politicized SCOTUS as judges take on the role of (unelected) legislators. Many of the conclusions arrived at with this process oriented approach are almost certainly a turn-off to virtually anyone's political sensibilities, but Bork would say that's irrelevant. His subtle sense of humor is a bonus. "The notion of a "living Constitution" seems to appeal to a ...more
Aug 16, 2014 B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, westend
A very interesting and engaging book. This is the highest profile defense of "original intent" jurisprudence of which I am aware. Bork has a pleasant yet acerbic style as a writer and his command of argument is extremely good.

In terms of flaws as a book, there are really two:

FIRST, Bork never sets out a positive vision of his jurisprudence. Over and over again, he says that one should use original intent because the Constitution is a law. While much of that may seem evident to non-specialists,
Jul 20, 2015 Henry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
NOT A REVIEW. Taking notes.

P 41: "Courts cannot nullify an act ... on the vague ground that they think it opposed to a general latent spirit supposed to pervade or underlie the constitution, where neither the terms nor the implications of the instrument disclose any such restriction. Such a power is denied to the courts, because to concede it would be to make the courts sovereign over both the constitution and the people, and convert the government into a judicial despotism." Nathan Clifford dis
Mar 18, 2012 Shad rated it really liked it
Judge Bork did a good job of showing the intellectual dishonesty the Court and others have exercised with regard to the Constitution and its interpretation. Personally, I think textualism is superior to originalism, largely due to the difficulty of discerning the intent of those who enacted legislation or ratified the Constitution because the only thing that can usually said to have been definitely agreed upon is the actual text adopted and not what ratifiers or legislators thought about it. How ...more
Brandon Zaffini
Jun 27, 2012 Brandon Zaffini rated it it was amazing
This book is perfect for those seeking a potent defense of the originalist approach to the Constitution. Bork lays out the relevant theory, then applies it to Supreme Court cases down through the years. He also confronts opposing arguments from both the left and right--he eschews results-driven approaches to the Constitution, irregardless of whether they are supported from conservatives or liberals. Last, Bork details the circumstances and arguments surrounding his nomination to the Supreme Cour ...more
A good description of the "originalist" approach to Constitutional adjudication, and a good critique of its alternatives. My one complaint is that he does not offer any justification for the goodness of the Constitution and the Founders' original intent in reality. He makes a good case that it's a functional theory, but I'm still left wondering why it's good or true, according to the nature of things. What's the basis of its legitimacy? He leaves these questions unanswered because he is reluctan ...more
Jan 07, 2013 Dennis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought that this book was a well-thought out defense of originalism and the right of people to take a wide range of action through the democratic processes. I ultimately disagree with his philosophy, but it is important for people to read good arguments for originalism so they understand what it is and what it is not. I thought that the book was a tad under-sourced and tended to only source pronouncements that the author agreed. Thus, it was less scholarly that I would have liked, but this is ...more
Chris Hunt
Apr 22, 2011 Chris Hunt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an excellent book on the history of the Supreme Court seen through the eyes of someone who, though eminently qualified, was rejected from serving on said court by the Democrats in 1987. There is nothing but objective history here. You'll find no resentment coming from this man in this great work.

In this book, Bork discusses many landmark decisions throughout the history of the High Court and the implications these decisions have had on American history. Only problem is that this book is rat
Jan 27, 2008 Skip rated it liked it
Judge Bork outlines his concept of the judicail doctrine commonly called "Original Understanding" and the dangers inherent in judicial reasoning that is results oriented as opposed to the application of original principles and logic to the problem at hand with the result flowing from problem to solution as opposed to backward from desired political result. Dry reading that would only appeal to lawyers, judges or students of the law and politics.
Mitchell Kaufman
Feb 23, 2016 Mitchell Kaufman rated it it was amazing
What a loss it was to this country that Judge Bork did not make it to the Supreme Court. This is an excellent discussion of Constitutional jurisprudence, the proper place of the judiciary in our system, and the limits of government.

This is an indispensable guide for those who wonder how the Court became so involved in politics and where we went off the tracks.
Greg Foley
Feb 16, 2016 Greg Foley rated it it was ok
It's about the theory of constitutional interpretation. I would have preferred something about the original understanding interpretation of actual constitutional clauses, e.g. the second amendment or interstate commerce clause. It's also a boring, sometimes hard to understand, read.
John Peebles
Nov 18, 2008 John Peebles rated it really liked it
An important book about a bad view of Constitutional theory. Bork is the best advocates of the school of originalist interpretation of the constitution.
Jun 04, 2008 Robert rated it liked it
I read this book based on a recommendation from a lawyer friend. I am not aware of the cases / constitution to really appreciate Bork and his views.
Aaron Jordan
Aug 04, 2011 Aaron Jordan rated it it was amazing
Best exposition of originalism. Bork shows that if you abandon originalism, you must also abandon the separation of powers. A thoughtful, brilliant work, even if you disagree with his argument.
Raj Duvvuri
Raj Duvvuri rated it really liked it
Aug 03, 2014
Jennifer W.
Jennifer W. rated it really liked it
Mar 26, 2011
Brett rated it really liked it
Feb 10, 2011
Daniel Hudák
Daniel Hudák rated it it was amazing
May 29, 2016
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Robert Heron Bork (March 1, 1927 – December 19, 2012) was an American legal scholar who advocated the judicial philosophy of originalism. Bork served as a Yale Law School professor, Solicitor General, Acting Attorney General, and a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In 1987, he was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan, but the Sen ...more
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“In law, the moment of temptation is the moment of choice, when a judge realizes that in the case before him his strongly held view of justice, his political and moral imperative, is not embodied in a statute or in any provision of the Constitution. He must then choose between his version of justice and abiding by the American form of government. Yet the desire to do justice, whose nature seems to him obvious, is compelling, while the concept of constitutional process is abstract, rather arid, and the abstinence it counsels unsatisfying. To give in to temptation, this one time, solves an urgent human problem, and a faint crack appears in the American foundation. A judge has begun to rule where a legislator should.” 0 likes
“A judge who announces a decision must be able to demonstrate that he began from recognized legal principles and reasoned in an intellectually coherent and politically neutral way to his result. Those who would politicize the law offer the public, and the judiciary, the temptation of results without regard to democratic legitimacy.” 0 likes
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