Robert Bork (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(USA TODAY) -- Robert Bork, a former federal judge who was rejected for the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987, has died. He was 85.
Bork's family confirmed his death.
PHOTOS | Notable deaths in 2012
In 1987, Bork was serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia when President Ronald Reagan nominated him to serve on the Supreme Court.
Bork's nomination roiled the Senate, which got into a heated debate over the judge's stance on civil rights. He was rejected by the Senate by a vote of 42-58.
Bork first rose to prominence in 1973 as solicitor general, and he fired special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox on the orders of President Richard Nixon. The incident, known as the Saturday Night Massacre, helped fuel the drive to impeach Nixon over the Watergate affair.
Bork served on the federal appeals bench from 1982 to 1988. After leaving the circuit court, he became a writer and commentator and protested what he saw as the overreach by the Supreme Court.
(Catalina Camia and David Jackson, USA TODAY)