Civil rights lawyer, William L. (Bill) Taylor, died today at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. I knew him also as the father of Lauren Taylor, one of my oldest friends.
Bill was responsible for the strategy that, in 1987, led the Senate to defeat President Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork to sit on the Supreme Court. The Justice we got instead was Anthony Kennedy, author of the Court's two landmark gay rights cases, Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas. Just today, Kennedy was the swing vote in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, the Court's ruling upholding the right of Hastings Law School to deny official recognition to a student group that excluded unrepentant gay men and lesbians.
Because of Bill's role in Bork's defeat, without which Kennedy would not serve on the Court, I feel enormous gratitude for Bill's efforts and for the benefits that the LGBT community reaped as a result of his work. Bork would have been Scalia's evil twin; when it comes to gay rights, Kennedy has been Scalia's nemesis.
I've written more about Bill's contribution and his passing here. Thank you, Bill. Your memory is a blessing.