I find it interesting that in its editorial opposing the Robert Bork nomination {Oct. 5}, The Post spends more time praising Judge Bork than burying him. It must have been exceptionally difficult to write an editorial opposing Judge Bork in the face of his experience, his brilliance and his integrity, all of which The Post painstakingly admits.

The Post is able to ignore the fact, however, because, like the anti-Bork activists, it does not think its way to a conclusion, it simply feels. In fact, The Post falls right into line with the "intellectual vulgarization" it decries by demanding a justice who also feels his way to conclusion.

What has liberalism come to? John Locke must be spinning in his grave. Reason, the shining star of the Enlightenment, the principle that guided Jefferson and Madison, has been abandoned by its most fervent disciples.

The hysteria we have been subjected to for the past few weeks has taken many forms, but has been intended to do one thing only: terrify us into opposing the nomination. We have seen little in the form of rational argument, and The Post's editorial is no improvement. The Post's fearmongering is not as blatant as the media campaigns, but its opposition is based on the same principle: we must beware Judge Bork because he is "almost frighteningly" detached, because "he plays with ideas" and because "he does not seem to care who is crushed."

The Post and the hysterics share the same goals. They care about results more than they care about principle or even democracy. They are perfectly happy to let the courts apply whatever values the courts choose, particularly as long as they can count on the courts to apply values they share. In taking this position, The Post displays an appalling ignorance of the role of the judiciary in constitutional government.

Judges must apply reason -- not opinions or feelings -- to the law because, being unelected, they must demonstrate the legitimacy of their decisions by referring to the will of the people as expressed in statutes and the Constitution. When a judge finds a right in the Constitution, he must be able to show precisely how that right is grounded in the Constitution. It is not enough to say that judges cannot avoid imposing their own values and that any attempt to move away from values must fail. Nor is it enough to say that the Constitution is a "living" document. This obscures the difference between a judge who interprets the words of a document in new ways to find new rights and a judge who finds new rights without having anything whatever to point to other than his own sense of what is just. If we are to do the latter, we do not need a Constitution: Why not let the justices decide every issue on the basis of their own values and opinions? The answer is obvious: because we don't trust them, and we have to guide them to make sure they're doing what we want them to do.

The Post and the hysterics tolerate -- even applaud -- this assault on the will of the majority in the name of protecting minorities. To its credit, The Post recognizes that the quest for justice for minorities and the wholesale creation of new rights may sometimes go too far, but rather than trying to correct the problem, it accuses Judge Bork of going too far the other way. By shifting the focus to Judge Bork's supposed overreaction, The Post subtly labels him an extremist and adopts the simplistic position that one man alone, assuming he wanted to, could "turn back the clock." This is just more fearmongering, although well camouflaged in moderate language.

MATTHEW C. AMES

Arlington

The essence of The Post's fine editorial on the Bork nomination was summed up many years ago by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes when he wrote that "the life of the law has not been logic, but experience." No one denies the logical excellence of Judge Bork. However, all systems of logic are based on basic postulates and values that cannot be derived from logic but only from qualities of experience that are apparently beyond the ken of Judge Bork.

I recall that it took at least 10 years for me to realize that my courses in logic at Harvard never taught me to know when logic applied. In life, most of the time it doesn't.

JAMES E. BEVERLY

Arlington

I was amazed to read The Post's editorial reply {"Dear George . . . ," Oct. 8} to the uncannily brilliant piece by George F. Will {"Judge Bork and 'Sensitivity Snobbery,' " op-ed, Oct. 8}. The Post falls into the exact syndrome that the columnist has accused it of -- ignoring constitutional law for a subjective "seeming to care" values test. The Post even calls for a sign from Judge Bork for evidence of his compassion. This reminds me of an analogous Biblical incident when the Pharisees and Sadducees asked for a sign from Jesus Christ to reveal His true nature. He answered (Matthew 16:4): "Oh, you hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky but can you not discern the signs of the times?"

How often does one have to emphasize the track record of Judge Bork? For example, in 17 of 19 cases he handled as solicitor general, Robert Bork sided with minority or female plaintiffs. In all but four civil rights cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Judge Bork affirmed the minority or female plaintiffs' contentions. In the other four cases, Judge Bork was joined by liberal members of the appeals court.

Finally, if he lacks sensitivity, why has the Supreme Court never overturned his decisions? The Post, as the modern-day Pharisees of the media, searches for signs of his sensitivity (which, of course, is without any definition or limits, as Mr. Will points out), but continues to ignore what is right in front of its face. Look at his exemplary record on civil rights -- not for some vague litmus test. The foundation of good law is the Constitution and not what a judge feels is good for today.

PHILIP D. ESKELAND

Arlington

The editorial against the Bork nomination fails for the same reason that latter-day liberalism has failed intellectually: The Post does not comprehend the social consequences that liberal interpretations of human nature have led to and will continue to lead to. Ironically, it is precisely a failure to acknowledge consequences that The Post accuses Mr. Bork of. How ironic can you get! The Post says that it wants the courts to be used as an instrument of "justice" -- yet it fails to define what it means by justice. Is The Post even aware that there are legitimate disagreements as to what is "just"?

Implied by the editorial is an unquestioned leftist definition of justice that sees all human action as determined by external forces. The Post would not acknowledge the moral responsibility of the individual in the long run. This is the fundamental failure of liberalism, one that has helped to pave the way for a situation in which 13-year-old children feel "justified" (where did they get their concept of "justice"?) in using drugs, running away to Fort Lauderdale and spitting in the face of the "evil, unjust" society they have been taught to hate.

JONATHAN CHAVES

Washington

I have been deeply disappointed while watching Judge Bork martyred at the stake of judicial activism. Although many of his opponents profess concerns about "opening old wounds" or Judge Bork's stance on various cases, his testimony and his record belie these claims. The fundamental issue is whether we want judges to restrain themselves to the Constitution, statute and precedent or we seek judges who will use the courts to initiate and establish social policy.

Efforts to disguise this position by expressing concern, as The Post does, about Judge Bork's "detachment from . . . the real-world consequences of his views" do not persuade and only underscore the true intent of those who desire to achieve through the courts what they cannot achieve through the legislative or executive branches.

GARTH B. RIEMAN

Washington

The Post says courts must apply values and use the elasticity of the Constitution to ensure that justice is done. I suggest that the same elasticity and justice that brought present-day civil rights and privacy laws also allowed racial discrimination, searches of homes without warrants and blatant sex discrimination for many, many years.

For years the courts believed that justice was served by denying women the right to vote, that racial discrimination was just and that home searches without warrants were justified. These standards of justice have changed for the better, but the country is still divided on other major issues, such as whether justice is served by capital punishment or women's right to abortion.

Does The Post want the Supreme Court to decide these issues using its values and sense of justice, or would The Post prefer that the court interpret the laws and the Constitution? The Post evidently wants both -- everyone does. However, the first order of business of the Supreme Court is to interpret all cases in law and equity arising under the Constitution. Article III does not require the court to administer justice. It does give the court appellate jurisdiction as to both law and fact over the inferior courts. Maybe we should give the Supreme Court authority to strike down a law that is unjust but constitutional. But that would require defining "justice," and we would be right back to the same liberal-conservative arguments about what is just concerning abortion and capital punishment.

G. M. STEWART JR.

Reston

The recent exchange of views on the subject of the Bork nomination between The Post and George Will was both enlivening and enlightening. But there was something missing from both arguments, and that absence is deeply disturbing.

The editorial took passing note of judges' use of the ''elasticity'' of the Constitution to ''deal with issues that, for various reasons, the other branches would not.'' Mr. Will, in turn, quoted that passage and then proceeded to recount the story of a judge in Kansas City who, in ordering tax increases, said that ''he had to do what other branches would not do.'' Mr. Will argued that a judge ought never to do a thing like that, and The Post argued that Judge Bork appeared to be incapable of doing it if it had to be done. Both missed the point.

Both The Post and George Will should have howled with indignation at the dereliction of duty in the ''other branches'' that so frequently required the judicial branch to act to prevent or overcome what The Post describes as ''the nation's clearest and ugliest inequities.'' Why, to use The Post's examples, should not Congress have acted long before the Supreme Court did to eliminate racial discrimination and chronic malapportionment? The answer in far too many cases is a lack of political courage by persons more concerned with perpetuating their tenure in office and enjoying the perquisites of office than with ensuring that the laws they pass embody from the outset the justice, compassion, caring or whatever that we as a people seem so strongly to desire. Instead, they choose either not to pass such laws at all or to pass weak, vaguely worded laws that will not offend their constituencies and that, they hope, the court will ''read'' or ''interpret'' in such a way as to produce the desired social result without the authors having to take any political flak.

What are they afraid of? If the polls are correct, and the public truly shares The Post's strongly felt need for a Supreme Court composed of justices whose ''moral sensibilities will be engaged'' to achieve desirable social ends, then that same public should applaud, support and reelect representatives who will stand up and be counted as passers of just laws, not as passers of the buck to the Supreme Court.

If our laws are just to begin with, then even a brilliant legal scholar with a frightening detachment from, or indifference toward, the consequences of his views can pass upon their constitutionality without placing anyone in danger of being crushed.

If our laws are unjust, we need to cure that problem at the beginning of the lawmaking process and not look to our courts to make laws or to ''interpret in'' compassion and justice at the end of the process. If the Bork nomination hearings serve to refocus our attention on this, they will have served a useful purpose whatever their outcome.

ALAN R. COBURN

Washington

The reasoning of The Post's editorial apologia for opposing the Bork nomination sounds pious, but is in truth totally specious. The editorial totally disregards the fact that (even if all the hysterical, political depredations were true, which we know is not the case), there are eight other justices on the Supreme Court. I believe it was Judge Griffin Bell who testified to the effect that this is insulting to those eight; and it (by implication) demeans the brilliant intellect of Judge Bork himself -- as if to say his mind would be incapable of, or totally closed to, collegial colloquy and debate in arriving at opinions.

The Post tosses a sop to Cerberus with its comment that Judge Bork "has been pilloried . . . for having had the effrontery to raise questions that ought to be raised and that are difficult to answer." It doesn't comment on the fact that a voice for raising them might prove to be an asset on the court.

There is hypocrisy in The Post's averring that "much of the anti effort was . . . enough to make you pro . . . profoundly distorting the record and the nature of the man" -- and then going on to imply that his exercise of judicial restraint would be to render him morally valueless.

Of course, the "elasticity" in the Constitution of which The Post speaks has been part of its genius. And in order to stretch elastic, there has to be a "firm point of grasp" at one end of it in order to "pull it into a stretch" from the other end -- right? I perceive Judge Bork to be a man with a firm point of grasp, not a man to meanly let the thing snap back in your face!

PRISCILLA H. SMITH

Annapolis