SAN FRANCISCO, AUG. 11 -- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. said today that "America would be a fundamentally different place than it is today" had Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork's view of constitutional law prevailed during the last three decades.

In a speech to the American Bar Association's annual meeting here, Biden said he will press Bork during confirmation hearings on whether as a justice he would vote to overrule "dozens" of Supreme Court decisions that Bork has sharply criticized.

Retired chief justice Warren E. Burger, at a news conference later, said it would be highly improper for Bork to discuss his views on specific cases as Biden wants him to.

Burger, who supports confirmation for Bork, said, "No judge up for nomination under any circumstances should be ever asked to commit himself on how he's going to vote on a case that's coming before the court at some future date."

Burger said the Senate is "overdue already" on confirming Bork and that he could not recall a nominee "better qualified than Judge Bork." If it is proper for the Senate to consider a nominee's ideology and its impact on the balance of the court, "then they shouldn't have confirmed me," Burger said.

Last month, in a highly unusual move for a sitting Supreme Court member, Justice John Paul Stevens said that he thinks that Bork is qualified and should be confirmed.

Biden's speech, which drew a standing ovation from the bar association's litigation section, outlined for the first time what his approach will be during confirmation hearings next month on Bork, now a U.S. Appeals Court judge in Washington. Biden cited a host of Supreme Court decisions that Bork has criticized as being in error.

"Let's everybody understand, notwithstanding that Joe Biden is running for president and Bob Dole is running for president, the debate we're about to engage in is not about presidential politics," Biden said. Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) will be among Bork's strongest supporters in the Senate debate on his nomination.

"It is about what everybody knows in every fiber of their being, regardless of their position -- the court is about to change," Biden said. "Let's stop pussyfooting around and get to the business of what Judge Bork believes, for much is at stake."

For example, he said, "One man-one vote, the Voting Rights Act, separation of church and state -- is it true, as the judge suggests, that the Constitution does not protect them?

"Racially restrictive covenants, the sterilization of criminals, the prior restraint of freedom of the press -- is it true, as Judge Bork has written extensively, that the Constitution does not forbid them?"

Biden said that although "we can't be certain these are among the dozens of precedents that Judge Bork might or might not overturn, we can be certain, if Judge Bork has meant what he has written for the past 30 years, that had he been Justice Bork during the past 30 years and had his view prevailed, America would be a fundamentally different place than it is today."

He added: "For all Americans, particularly those in the Senate . . . the issue {of Bork's nomination} is what will America look like if I have even remotely gotten the meaning of what Judge Bork's constitutional view would dictate."

Biden quoted from Bork's statement during 1981 confirmation hearings on his nomination to the federal appeals court, in which Bork said that Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's 1973 abortion decision, and "dozens" of other cases were wrongly decided.

"What are those dozens of other cases not allowed by a proper interpretation of the Constitution that he would feel bound to go back and seek to overturn?" Biden asked. "He might feel compelled to overturn those dozens of cases and who knows how many more besides."

Biden said he realizes "we may never get a specific answer" because Bork may adopt the same position that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia took during his confirmation hearings last year and decline to state his views on specific cases.

"If he does take that position, the only thing I am left to do as a senator . . . to seek insight is to look at the many precedents that Judge Bork has criticized as lawless, empty and without foundation over the past few years."

Biden's speech repeated statements he made on the Senate floor last month in a discussion of the proper role of the Senate in scrutinizing Supreme Court nominees.

In remarks following his speech, Biden said President Reagan should withdraw Bork's nomination if it is rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"Quite frankly, if there's a majority who votes no on the committee, then he's gone," Biden said.

He said the outcome on the committee "remains undecided," with three swing votes. The swing votes -- those whose views are not yet clear -- on the 14-member committee are considered to be Democrats Howell Heflin (Ala.) and Dennis DeConcini (Ariz.) and Republican Arlen Specter (Pa.).

Biden termed "somewhat disingenuous" a statement in a White House briefing book describing Bork as a mainstream jurist in the mold of retired justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., whom he has been nominated to replace.

Biden said he planned to "determine whether {the White House statements} comport with the facts, which on the first blush I don't believe they do."