Excerpts from responses by Judge Robert H. Bork to questions by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.):

(K). . . You've testified . . . that you see no constitutional basis for a number of landmark decisions by the Supreme Court upholding some of the most fundamental rights and liberties . . . . In the course of these hearings, you've expressed your strong disagreement with such decisions as the poll-tax case . . . one man, one vote . . . the decision invalidating restrictive covenants . . . striking down segregated schools here . . . recognizing that Americans have a right to privacy . . . key decisions protecting the freedom of speech . . . .You told us . . . that your views are changing in a number of controversial areas, but you told the District Lawyer in 1985, when you were a judge . . . "It's always embarrassing to sit here and say, 'No, I haven't changed anything,' because I suppose one should always claim growth . . . . My views have remained about what they were . . . . When you become a judge, I don't think your viewpoint is likely to change greatly." You told the Federalist Society in 1987 that . . . "an originalist judge would have no problem whatsoever in overruling a nonoriginalist precedent because that precedent, by the very basis of his judicial philosophy, has no legitimacy." And, finally, there is an audiotape of remarks which you made at Canisius College in Buffalo, Oct. 8, 1985 . . . .

{Audiotape is played}: Now the relationship between the judge, the text and precedent, what do you do about precedent?

Bork: I don't think that, in the field of constitutional law, precedent is all that important, and I say that for two reasons. One is historical and traditional. The court has never thought constitutional precedent was all that important {because}, if you construe a statute incorrectly, then Congress can . . . correct {it}. If you construe the Constitution incorrectly . . . everybody is helpless . . . . If you become convinced that a prior court has misread the Constitution, I think it's your duty to go back and correct it. Moreover . . . willful courts . . . will take an area of law and create precedents that have nothing to do with the meaning of the Constitution. If a new court comes in and says, "Well, I respect precedent," which has a ratchet effect, with the Constitution getting further . . . away from its original meaning because some judges feel free to make up new constitutional law and other judges, in the name of judicial restraint, follow precedent, I don't think precedent is all that important. I think the importance is the what the framers were driving at . . . . {end tape}.

In light of what we have just heard, how can anyone have confidence that you'll respect the decisions of the Supreme Court with which you have disagreed?

(B). . . Let me go down the items that you have mentioned . . . . You mentioned the District Lawyer, an answer about where I said, "It's embarrassing to sit here and say I haven't changed." The question was, "Has your view of the possible usurpation of political functions by courts changed since you ascended to the bench" -- not all my views, my views about courts taking over areas that belong to the legislature. And I said, "It's always embarrassing to sit here and say, 'No, I haven't changed anything because I suppose one should always claim growth.' " The fact is, no, my views have remained about where they were. After all, courts are not all that mysterious, and, if you deal with them enough and teach their opinions enough, you're likely to know a great deal.

The following is in response to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.):

(Biden)What did you mean, and what do you think they meant by "political functions?"

(Bork)I think they meant . . . functions that belong to the legislature under the Constitution . . . . My views that that is not proper have not changed . . . . In the Federalist Society speech . . . I scribbled in the margin about "an originalist judge," etc. . . . . In the typed part of my speech, I then gave an example of nonoriginalist decisions that should not be overruled, and that was the commerce clause.

Now as to the tape . . . generally what I said there is correct . . . if there is an incorrect constitutional interpretation, the legislature cannot change it . . . . If there is an incorrect interpretation of a statute, the legislature can correct it. That is why it has always been true that the doctrine of stare decisis . . . has always applied more severely in statutory fields than in the constitutional field . . . . Now that is a perfectly standard view . . . .

Kennedy questions Bork further:

(K). . . Above all, a Supreme Court justice must be fair but, in a lifetime of {public} writings, Mr. Bork has shown his bias against women and minorities and in favor of big business and presidential power. And it's small comfort to minorities to know that, some years after the Civil Rights Act was passed over his opposition, Mr. Bork changed his mind and said that it had worked all right . . . . {He} asks us to judge him on his record as a judge, but, in his own speeches as a judge, he has shown little respect for the past decisions of the Supreme Court. Again and again, on the public record, he has suggested that he is prepared to roll back the clock . . . . And in these hearings . . . he has asked us to believe that he can make a U-turn . . . . Who is the real Robert Bork? . . . .

(B). . . If those charges were not so serious, the discrepancy between the evidence and what you say would be highly amusing. I have not asked that either the Congress or the courts be neutral in the face of racial discrimination. I have upheld the laws that outlaw {it} . . . . I have never written a word hostile to women . . . hostile to privacy . . . . I have never complained about the reasoning of one Supreme Court case. I have never written a word or made a decision from which you can infer that I am pro-big business at the expense of other people . . . . Nothing in my record suggests I have a political or ideological agenda.