The Battle Begins

Bork's nomination is likely to stir a fiercely political Senate fight

All at once the political passions of three decades seemed to converge on a single empty chair: the Supreme Court seat vacated by Lewis Powell, a centrist who gave court liberals a crucial fifth vote in decisions on abortion, affirmative action and religion. Powell's retirement has offered Ronald Reagan a chance to engineer what could be the most important court succession in decades, creating a right-leaning judicial majority that could advance the President's legacy into the next century.

No wonder then that the fight shaping up over Judge Robert Bork, 60, the conservative legal scholar nominated by Reagan last week, promises...