In commenting on the nomination of Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court, The Post writes {editorial, July 2} that the "real issue" in the debate is unlikely to be the judge's personal and professional qualifications but rather his philosophical leanings. "The Senate," The Post says, "must decide not just what it thinks of his judicial record but the extent to which it wants the confirmation process to become a referendum on these political questions rather than the judge."

It's important to remember that the nation's Founders had no doubt that inquiry into a nominee's substantive views by the Senate is not only permitted but required. In fact, the Senate rejected George Washington's nomination of John Rutledge -- one of the authors of the Constitution -- in 1795 on philosophical grounds. This rejection began the legacy of inspection of "philosophical leanings" that today's Senate is obligated to continue. One in five nominees has been rejected by the Senate. Many were rejected explicitly on grounds of insensitivity to civil rights issues (George Woodward, 1845; Jeremiah Black, 1861; Clement Haynsworth, 1969; G. Harrold Carswell, 1970), grounds which legitimately garnered at least part of the 35 votes against confirming Chief Justice Rehnquist last year and will undoubtedly be raised against the confirmation of Judge Bork.

The enduring worth of any jurist has little to do with academic accolades and much to do with sensitivity to the vital issues facing the nation. The diversity of popular representation embodied by the Senate has the responsibility to invest its energies in a determination of any nominee's dedication to issues that are critical to the American people.

KURT A. WIMMER Washington

It is bad enough that so many liberals believe they are the only honest, smart, well-motivated and competent people in the United States. But for a U.S. senator to say the president, by nominating a conservative to the Supreme Court, is automatically nominating someone who is not competent is incomprehensible.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy was quoted {front page, June 27} as hoping President Reagan will resist "the temptation to go with ideology over competence." And what I find interesting is that Sen. Leahy probably believes this kind of twisted logic. Does he mean to say that the Senate will only approve a liberal regardless of competence?

For Sen. Leahy's benefit, I would like to say that, as amazing as it may seem, there are conservatives who are not only competent but caring, compassionate and even as valuable to our society as liberals.

For Sen. Leahy to make the further point that the administration will be "damaged" by nominating a conservative is pure arrogance.