Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork has been criticized for undergoing what some call a "confirmation conversion," changing or softening his earlier criticism of the Supreme Court in order to bolster his chances of confirmation. The criticism focuses on statements in three areas:

Free Speech

A 1968 Supreme Court ruling, Brandenburg v. Ohio, found that advocacy of lawlessness was protected so long as there was no "imminent" illegal action. In a speech at the University of Michigan in the late 1970s, Bork said:

"Brandenburg {is a} fundamentally wrong interpretation of the First Amendment."

Last week, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Bork said:

"The Supreme Court has come to the Brandenburg position, which is okay; it is a good position."

Equal Protection

In a 1971 article in the Indiana Law Journal, Bork said:

"Cases of race discrimination aside, it is always a mistake for the court to try to construct . . . individual rights under the . . . equal protection clause." In a 1987 radio interview, he said: "I think the equal protection clause probably should have been kept to things like race and ethnicity."

Last week, Bork said:

"I objected to when the Supreme Court was using a method of saying this group . . . is in; this group . . . is out . . . . It is much better to proceed under the reasonableness test . . . . Any person is covered. That means everybody is covered -- men, women, everybody.

Respect for Precedent

At a speech two years ago in New York, Bork said:

"I don't think that in the field of constitutional law, precedent is all that important . . . . I think the importance is what the Framers were driving at, and to go back at that."

Last week, Bork argued that he has consistently maintained that certain decisions, such as those involving the commerce clause, are too well settled to consider overturning, even though they are wrong. " . . . A judge must give great respect to precedent . . . . It is one thing as a legal theorist to criticize the reasoning of a prior decision, even to criticize it severely, as I have done. It is another and more serious thing altogether for a judge to ignore or overturn a prior decision."