MOBILE, ALA., AUG. 13 -- Senate confirmation of Robert H. Bork as a Supreme Court justice could lead to court decisions making it easier to prosecute criminal defendants, Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) told a convention of law-enforcement officers today.
Dole, an unannounced candidate for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination, specifically criticized the exclusionary rule, which prohibits use of illegally obtained evidence in criminal cases.
He said the Supreme Court's 1961 decision extending the rule to state and federal courts had resulted in a "staggering" cost, allowing countless criminals to go free.
But, Dole added, more recent decisions granting exceptions indicate that the Supreme Court "might ultimately do away with the exclusionary rule entirely," and he suggested that Bork's confirmation would speed that process.
Dole quoted a court opinion by Bork that freeing criminals because of tainted evidence "should shock the judicial conscience even more than admitting the evidence."
Addressing the national gathering of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Dole said Bork, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, is "someone who will have the interests of law enforcement officers in his mind when he makes a decision."
Dole's assault on the exclusionary rule and endorsement of the Bork nomination were warmly received by the conservative police organization. Dewey R. Stokes, in line to become the organization's next president, said he expects that the 2,100 convention delegates will overwhelmingly adopt a resolution urging Bork's confirmation.
"I think Bork will be appointed, and it will be a strike for justice and law enforcement in this country," Stokes said.
Other police officers interviewed at the convention said that Dole impressed them and that they support Bork.
"We want a conservative move," said Sgt. Tom Diemert of Cleveland. "We should worry about the victim and to hell with the guy who walks over people."
At a news conference after his speech, Dole called Bork "a law-and-order judge" and said prospects for his confirmation "look better and better everyday."
Dole stopped here while campaigning during Congress' recess. The confirmation fight, in which Dole will lead Senate backers of the nomination, has given his budding presidential campaign an issue to rally conservative audiences.
Alabama, along with Louisiana, Florida and Georgia, has been targeted by Bork's opponents for a grass-roots effort to defeat the nomination. Senators from these four states are thought to be undecided on the nomination.
Stokes said the FOP will urge its 187,000 members to write to their senators supporting the nomination.
Dole told the group that the nomination "is the main event of this Congress, and you have a huge stake in the outcome of that fight."
Calling Bork "one of the ablest legal minds of this generation," he characterized opposition to the nomination as "political."
"I believe the states ought to have real authority to put the clamps on crime," he said. "I believe the Supreme Court, even without Judge Bork, is moving in that direction."
Dole also won applause by noting that the Senate had approved legislation permitting use of the death penalty but that "the liberals in the House inflicted their own form of cruel and unusual punishment" by refusing to act on the measure.
"It's not right, and it's not fair to the brave men and women who risk their lives to protect the law-abider from the lawbreaker," he said.
At his news conference, Dole said President Reagan struck the right tone in his speech Wednesday on the Iran-contra affair and the remainder of his term.
"He again accepted responsibility, as he should have," Dole said.