SENATOR SPECTER GETS MY VOTE AS SENATE JUDICIARY CHAIR.
The elevation of Sen. Arlen Specter to Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee has obviously caused a stir. In the end, however, I am persuaded that the Judiciary Committee Republicans and GOP Senate Caucus should elect him to that position.
Make no mistake: I do not share many of Sen. Specter’s views on important policy questions and on matters of constitutional or statutory interpretation. In fact, I went so far as to make a donation to his primary challenger, former Pennsylvania Congressman Pat Toomey. I was specifically concerned about Sen. Specter’s performance as the next Senate Judiciary Chairman. Given that both President Bush and Senator Rick Santorum supported Sen. Specter, perhaps my decision to give Rep. Toomey fifty bucks was in error. But I do not regret it.
In fact, I find Sen. Specter’s treatment of Judge Robert Bork in his 1987 confirmation hearings to be nothing short of shameful. Sen. Specter had recently made reference to his actions in that painful episode. It was a mistake for Sen. Specter to do that. He should have expected the much-deserved backlash for it. I am sure he now regrets his comments.
Nonetheless, I choose to support Sen. Specter for the position. We need his support to amend the ridiculous and unconstitutional Senate rules that allow a minority of Senators to block confirmation votes on the President’s judicial nominees. We also need the support of Sen. Specter’s moderate Republican allies in overturning those rules. Sen. Specter will make sure that all judicial nominees receive a prompt hearing and that all nominees will receive an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. This is CRUCIAL.
Finally, Sen. Specter has pledged that he will NOT adopt a “litmus test” on the abortion issue. This is all anyone can ask for. Some conservatives might be seeking a guarantee that he will give blanket support only to pro-life nominees or that he will give blanket support to all nominees who happen to be pro-life. (And perhaps some conservatives even felt that the President’s mandate somehow includes the overturning of Roe, Doe, Casey and Stenberg. But this is all asking too much.) Such would is more than the President has ever asked and it is more than the wisest conservatives have asked for.
Simply put: if Sen. Specter supports changes to Senate rules, supports prompt Judiciary Committee hearings on judicial nominees, supports up or down votes on all judicial nominees and accepts the “no litmus test” compromise, then that is ALL that should be asked of him and he should be deserving of support. Perhaps written assurance is warranted, perhaps not. Regardless, I will support Sen. Specter and will mail Senate leaders to convey my sentiments in this regard.
(Downtown Seattle, WA)