Robert Bork passed away on 19 December 2012 at the age of 85 . Among other things, he served as a professor at Yale Law School, as Solicitor General in the US Department of Justice as well as a judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He was also nominated to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan but his nomination was rejected by the Senate in 1987. His nomination to the Supreme Court led to Bork being the object of an extensive unfavourable media campaign by its opponents for his allegedly extreme views. In 2002, the verb "to bork" was even added to the Oxford English Dictionary with the following definition: "To defame or vilify (a person) systematically, especially in the mass media, usually with the aim of preventing his or her appointment to public office; to obstruct or thwart (a person) in this way." Most recently Bork was senior judicial adviser to the 2012 presidential campaign of Gov. Mitt Romney. Although he may be described as one of the greatest legal scholars of his generation, he will remain controversial for being involved in some political scandals such as the Watergate as well as for being a conservative judicial activist.
As a scholar, Robert Bork is most well-known for his activities in the field of antitrust. Bork will be remembered as the man “who redefined Antitrust”. He was one of the leading exemplars of the Chicago school of thought, which was developed in reaction to the Harvard School approach which considered that there was a relationship between the structure of a market and its performance. According to the Harvard school, the more concentrated the structure of the market is, the more suboptimal the behaviours of the undertakings on that market are (supra-competitive prices) and the more negative the performance of the industry is. By contrast, Bork and other proponents of the Chicago school argued that competition authorities should not be concerned with market structure because most of the time the oligopolistic concentration of the markets is a source of efficiencies.
Bork’s magnum opus has been The Antitrust Paradox (1978). Bork argued that while antitrust law should be enforced against collusive conduct and mergers creating monopolies, it should not apply to practices like vertical agreements and price discrimination which do not harm consumers. In fact, if antitrust law were to apply in such cases, this eventually allows inefficient competitors to remain afloat and artificially raises the prices. This is the “paradox” from which antitrust policy suffered in the 1970s, according to Bork. Success in the marketplace is no crime and only as-efficient competitors must be protected. Bork’s views have influenced the Supreme Court in a number of milestone judgments (e.g., Continental Television v. GTE Sylvania, Verizon v. Trinko, and Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc.).