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Will Specter Chair Judiciary?
Human Events ^ | November 4, 2004 | Timothy P. Carney

Posted on 11/05/2004 4:59:10 PM PST by Founding Father

FLASHBACK: August 18, 2003

Will Specter Chair Judiciary?

by Timothy P. Carney

Posted Nov 4, 2004

[Editor's note: This article originally appeared August 18, 2003]

Liberal Sen. Arlen Specter (R.-Pa.) is in line to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2005. This means the confirmation of the next Supreme Court justice could be presided over by a pro-choice senator who holds that Roe v. Wade was correctly decided and who helped sink the Supreme Court nomination of conservative judge Robert Bork.

If voters do not oust Specter in next year’s primary or general election, the Judiciary gavel -- and control over confirmations to the federal courts -- will fall into Specter’s hands unless a few powerful GOP senators are willing to stop it.

The simplest solution to the problem would take a personal sacrifice by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R.-Iowa). When the party’s term limits on committee chairmen force Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah) to give up the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee at the end of the current Congress, Grassley will be next in line for that position. To assume that role, however, he would need to surrender the gavel of the powerful Finance Committee.

But, according to a Grassley spokesman, the Iowa senator (who faces an easy reelection this year) is unwilling to surrender Finance, which drafts all tax law and Medicare legislation. That leaves Specter as Hatch’s heir-apparent at Judiciary.

New Senate Republican Conference rules limit senators to eight years as chairmen. The only other time seniority is bypassed is if the senior senator on a committee already holds another chairmanship.

Hatch’s eight years expire at the end of the current Congress. (The few months of GOP control before the Jeffords defection in the 107th Congress are not counted against term-limits.) Grassley, who is serving his first full year as Finance chairman, is eligible to run his committee until after the 2010 elections.

The Grassley gavel trade is not the only way to block Specter, but it is the easiest and the cleanest. Such a sacrifice on Grassley’s part would become unnecessary, of course, were Specter to lose reelection, either to conservative primary challenger Rep. Pat Toomey (R.-Pa.) or to Democratic Rep. Joe Hoeffel (Pa.) next November.

Also, the members of the Republican Conference could make one of two rule changes to prevent a Specter-led Judiciary Committee. First, they could waive the term limit for Hatch. Alternatively, they could circumvent rules and tradition and skip Specter for Sen. Jon Kyl (R.-Ariz.), a pro-life conservative who is fourth in seniority.

A final option, more peaceful than either of the above, is that the leadership could talk Specter into taking the chairmanship of some other committee, perhaps by offering a spot on another coveted panel.

The case is strong that conservatives and pro-lifers (as the Senate Republican leaders claim to be) ought to be ready to take drastic measures to keep Specter from running the Judiciary Committee.

The single most important function of the Judiciary Committee is to vet federal court nominees, especially nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court. Assuming President Bush wins a second term in 2004, the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee need to defend Bush’s nominees against assaults from the likes of Senators Ted Kennedy (D.-Mass.), Pat Leahy (D.-Vt.) and Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.).

The Judiciary Chairman must be the champion of any Supreme Court nominee. so he must be enthusiastic about all presidential judicial nominations. Specter, however, subscribes to the pro-abortion judicial activism of the left.

In October 1999 and then again this Spring, during debate on a bill to ban partial-birth abortion, Specter voted in favor of an amendment holding that Roe v. Wade, which in 1973 seized the abortion issue from the states and elected legislatures, was correctly decided and ought not be overturned. The amendment passed both times.

Even pro-choice legal scholars maintain that the Roe decision -- based on "penumbras" and "emanations" rather than the text of the Constitution -- is a prime example of shoddy jurisprudence. Most noteworthy is pro-choice law professor John Hart Ely, who laid out the absurdities of Roe in his 1973 essay "The Wages of Crying Wolf: A comment on Roe v. Wade."

In 1987, Specter grilled Federal Appeals Court Judge Robert Bork, President Reagan’s conservative nominee to the Supreme Court. In his book Passion for Truth, Specter explained why he resisted Bork’s nomination, which was eventually voted down by the Senate. "The Constitution has turned out to be much more dynamic than [Bork believes]: a living, growing document, responsive to the needs of the nation," wrote Specter. "Bork’s narrow approach is dangerous for constitutional government."

Specter had approved of William Rehnquist’s promotion to chief justice and Antonin Scalia’s nomination (though he notes in his book that both "yes" votes were cast grudgingly) and later would come to the rescue of Clarence Thomas. But blocking Bork, he explained in his book, was essential to preserving the balance of the court.

‘Gentleman from Scotland’

Noting his fear that Reagan and Bush might get to fill three more vacancies (in fact they filled two more), Specter wrote: "A court dominated by Bork’s intellect with three similarly disposed new appointees plus Rehnquist and Scalia could adopt original intent and weaken or even reject judicial review. I concluded that the country couldn’t take that risk."

Specter voted yes on the nominations of liberals David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer as well as swing justices Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor. In his book, he notes no reservations or objections to those judges as he did with Rehnquist and Scalia.

The Judiciary Committee, in addition to vetting judicial nominees, has jurisdiction over many abortion-related bills. In this Congress, Specter has garnered a 50% rating from the National Right to Life Committee. In past Congresses, he has hovered between 0% and 25%. This year, Specter has voted in favor of the partial birth abortion ban, but supported funding for abortions on military bases and for International Planned Parenthood.

In many circles on Capitol Hill, Specter is known derisively as the "Gentleman from Scotland" for his bizarre attempt to escape judging President Bill Clinton’s high crimes and misdemeanors. At the end of the impeachment trial, Specter appealed to Scottish legal tradition, explaining that he found President Clinton neither guilty nor not guilty, but, "not proven." Specter then proceeded to vote not guilty on both counts.

The import of keeping Specter out of the chairmanship is not a matter of revenge, but a matter of ensuring that President Bush can feel comfortable nominating conservatives and constructionist judges -- and that those judges will be confirmed

Already in this Congress, Specter has shown resistance to such nominees. While casting the deciding vote to report the federal Appeals Court nomination of Alabama Atty. Gen. William Pryor out of the Judiciary Committee, Specter indicated he might join the Democrats in opposing the conservative’s nomination on the Senate floor.

Similarly, Specter is stirring up resistance to the nomination of Leon Holmes, according to GOP Senate staffers close to the confirmation process.

Some White House advisors are already counseling the President to nominate White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales to the high court once a vacancy occurs. Gonzales, they reason, will overcome the filibusters that face conservative nominees.

With Specter running the process on the Senate floor, the White House would have more reason to nominate such a moderate.

If the White House is to feel comfortable nominating a judge such as Pryor to the Supreme Court, the Senate Judiciary chairman will have to be conservative -- meaning not Arlen Specter. This will take an act of courage, either by Grassley, or the GOP Senate leadership.

Mr. Carney is a reporter for the Evans-Novak Political Report

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: judges; rino; specter
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Specter must not be allowed to chair the judiciary committee. Contact your senator now or Bill Frist.
1 posted on 11/05/2004 4:59:11 PM PST by Founding Father
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To: Founding Father

C'mon, isn't it important to have someone knowledgeable about Scottish law heading up the Senate's judiciary committee? Makes sense to me even if it is 'not proved.'

2 posted on 11/05/2004 5:04:53 PM PST by IrishBrewer
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To: Founding Father

If I were to put money on it, I'd say he has the chair. Not that I like it. We'll see if conservative positions are sought, or if the only thing sought is conservatives' votes.

3 posted on 11/05/2004 5:07:59 PM PST by Cboldt
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To: Founding Father
I believe Scottish Law requires Senators to vote against all RINOs!
4 posted on 11/05/2004 5:09:50 PM PST by SwinneySwitch (W 1)
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To: Cboldt
I'd say he has the chair. Not that I like it.

We have a winner.

The only way it doesn't happen, is if Bush gets real mean. Mad dog mean.

5 posted on 11/05/2004 5:10:34 PM PST by Glenn (The two keys to character: 1) Learn how to keep a secret. 2) ...)
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To: Glenn

Okay, so we write President Bush.

6 posted on 11/05/2004 5:14:29 PM PST by Tuscaloosa Goldfinch (THANK YOU LORD FOR YOUR MERCY TO US!!)
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To: Founding Father
It was put forth on FR that when Rehnquist "passes" that Clarence Thomas should be nominated as Chief Justice. That is a brilliant idea. If it was successful it would serve to smack the Dem senate into line.
The balance of those who was put before the senate would pass.. or pass with less difficulty.

Yes Spector needs to be shunted off to the head of NTSA or something. He must NOT take chairmanship of Justice. in the senate. It carries responsibilities he can not fulfill.
7 posted on 11/05/2004 5:16:42 PM PST by JSteff
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To: Founding Father
Specter wrote: "A court dominated by Bork’s intellect with three similarly disposed new appointees plus Rehnquist and Scalia could adopt original intent and weaken or even reject judicial review. I concluded that the country couldn’t take that risk."

This is going to be a problem for President Bush. Original Intent. That's the only way to see the Constitution in my opinion. Specter is a danger to the Republic.

8 posted on 11/05/2004 5:17:12 PM PST by 45Auto (Big holes are (almost) always better.)
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To: Tuscaloosa Goldfinch
Okay, so we write President Bush.

Excellent idea.

Lead from the front.

9 posted on 11/05/2004 5:17:33 PM PST by Glenn (The two keys to character: 1) Learn how to keep a secret. 2) ...)
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To: Founding Father
Well, one problem in getting the leadership (and even the White House) to weigh in against Specter getting the chairmanship---and using his "too liberal" nature as a main reason---is it completely and totally flies in the face of all the nice things Rick Santorum, Pres. Bush and all national GOPers had to say about Arlen just 7 months ago.

In other words, how could the guy be the right choice for conservatives in the Penn. GOP in their primaries but the wrong choice for conservatives when it comes to the bipartisan US Senate Judiciary committee.

Doesn't compute, does it?

10 posted on 11/05/2004 5:21:11 PM PST by LincolnLover (Thune Wins + G Dubya Wins = I am Deeply Gladdened (Election Day 2K4))
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To: Glenn

This is the site from which to submit a question. I did this, first congratulating the President on his re-election, and then I told him that as many of us worked with our local parties to ensure his return to the White House, the Supreme Court nominees were first and foremost in our minds. I told him that we were very concerned about Senator Specter, and wonder if someone else could be give that chairmanship.

11 posted on 11/05/2004 5:25:36 PM PST by Tuscaloosa Goldfinch (THANK YOU LORD FOR YOUR MERCY TO US!!)
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To: Founding Father
To U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist with copies to Republican Senators: Dear Senator: The GOP's increased edge in the U.S. Senate will not break the unconstitutional four-year blockade against President George W. Bush's God-honoring, pro-life nominees if Sen. Arlen Specter is allowed to chair the Judicial Committee. I am calling on you to stop this Republican in name only from continuing the Democrats' unethical and illegal stone wall that has kept the President's nominees off the federal bench, ultimately blocking them from reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. Upon re-election, Specter immediately broke his promise not to continue the Democrats' obstruction as the new chairman. The day after the election, he brazenly and bluntly warned the President not to bring any God-honoring, pro-life nominees before HIS committee....

12 posted on 11/05/2004 5:31:20 PM PST by SouthTexas
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To: All

We must contact the conservative media in addition to contacting the politicians. They both feed off of the other.

Keep up the pressure...we will hit critical mass if we keep pushing.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

13 posted on 11/05/2004 5:32:43 PM PST by VaBthang4 ("He Who Watches Over Israel Will Neither Slumber Nor Sleep")
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To: Founding Father

If the GOP wants to go back to taking it the a** from a RINO, screwing America with him, then I must once again pull out the Stupid Party label and affix it on the GOP.

14 posted on 11/05/2004 5:38:07 PM PST by ApesForEvolution (Tag Line Conservationist Week)
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To: Founding Father
My hope is that the only thing Arlen spec-tator (spud) gets to Chair.......

Is the Toilet during break time.......

15 posted on 11/05/2004 5:38:31 PM PST by thingumbob (Now showing........W 2 ..........for 4 more years)
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To: Founding Father
Here's praying that the Republican Caucus will kick Mr. Liberal from the chairmanship.
16 posted on 11/05/2004 5:42:59 PM PST by conservativecorner
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To: Glenn

I heard Tony Snow today say that the phones are melting at the Senate over this buffoon Specter...

17 posted on 11/05/2004 5:45:38 PM PST by tubebender (If I had know I would live this long I would have taken better care of myself...)
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To: Founding Father
I'm gonna be real blunt here. I didn't have much to say about this guy during his primary battle because I don't live in Pennsylvania, but it is clear to me that Toomey's supporters were right on the money.

This @sshole should have been dumped by the GOP when they had the chance.

18 posted on 11/05/2004 5:51:08 PM PST by Alberta's Child (I made enough money to buy Miami -- but I pissed it away on the Alternative Minimum Tax.)
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To: Alberta's Child; Glen; conservativecorner; tubebender
Senator Specter has an Agenda — Liberal Judges

“President Bush ran forthrightly on a clear agenda for this nation’s future, and the nation responded by giving him a mandate.” – Remarks by Vice President Cheney introducing President Bush for his victory speech, Ronald Reagan Building, November 3, 2004.

President Bush’s margin of victory proves that we “have a narrowly divided country, and that’s not a traditional mandate…the number-one item on my agenda is to try to move the party to the center.” – Sen. Arlen Specter, November 3, 2004.

Senator Arlen Specter's shocking comments the day after President Bush's decisive re-election raise troubling concersn

    Specter denied the legitimacy of President Bush’s historic mandate.

  • Specter announced a pro-abortion litmus test for the president’s judicial nominees. Specter claims that Roe v. Wade is “inviolate” and insists that “nobody can be confirmed today who does not agree with it.”

  • Specter’s illegal litmus test would disqualify all constitutionalist nominees from serving on the Supreme Court of the United States and the lower federal courts.

  • Specter’s illegal litmus test demands that all nominees violate the canons of judicial ethics by announcing or pledging how they will vote in a particular case.

  • Specter will not promise to support the President’s nominees. Instead, he merely “hopes” that he can support them. The day after the election, when a reporter asked Specter if he would support the president’s nominees, the senator hesitated and equivocated: “I am hopeful that I’ll be able to do that. That obviously depends upon the president’s judicial nominees. I’m hopeful that I can support them.”

  • Specter criticized President Bush’s first-term judicial nominees: “The nominees whom I supported in committee, I had reservations on.”

  • Specter insulted Janice Rogers Brown, president Bush’s nominee to the important U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. Specter referred to Brown, a distinguished conservative and the first African American woman to serve on the California Supreme Court, as “the woman judge out of California” who he had reservations about.

  • Specter insulted the entire Supreme Court of the United States, including Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia and Thomas. When a reporter asked Specter “Are you saying that there is not greatness” on the Supreme Court, Specter replied: “Yes. Can you take yes for an answer?”

  • Specter’s comments reveal that, like Sen. Kerry and Sen. Daschle, Specter favors judges who follow politics and popular opinion, not the Constitution and the rule of law.

  • Specter accused President Bush of ignoring the Senate’s advise and consent role: “The Constitution has a clause called advise and consent, the advise part is traditionally not paid a whole lot of attention to, I wouldn’t say quite ignored, but close to that.”

  • Specter wants to encroach upon the president’s appointment power. Obstructionist Democrats filibustered ten of President Bush’s appeals court nominees. Now Specter wants the Senate to become MORE involved in judicial appointments: “My hope is that the Senate will be more involved in expressing our views.”

Specter's record over the last 20 years demonstrated a pattern of very troubling conduct on Judiciary Committee issues

    Specter fought against the distinguished Judge Robert H. Bork, betraying President Reagan and his fellow Republicans.

  • Specter voted against Judge Bork on the judiciary committee, and against Bork’s confirmation on the Senate floor. By joining liberal Democratic senators and radical left-wing groups in their opposition to Judge Bork, Specter gave those groups aid and comfort, and was instrumental in Judge Bork’s defeat.

  • Judge Bork warned Americans that Specter does not understand the Constitution and that Specter, along with Senate Democrats “professed horror at the thought that a judge must limit his rulings to the principles in the actual Constitution.”

  • President Ronald Reagan called the left-wing assault against Judge Bork “an unprecedented political attack” on a Supreme Court nominee and “a tragedy for our country.” Specter rebuffed President Reagan’s plea to support Judge Bork.

  • Specter helped defeat the nomination of conservative Jeff Sessions for a federal judgeship.

  • Specter warned filibustered appeals court nominee William Pryor that just because he voted for him on the committee did not mean that he would vote on the Senate floor for his confirmation.

  • The “National Review” exposed Specter as “The Worst Republican Senator” in a prominent September 1, 2003 cover story. According to “National Review,” Specter “is not a team player…is an abortion rights absolutist, a dogged advocate of racial preferences, a bitter foe of tax reform, a firm friend of the International Criminal Court.”

  • Specter refuses to support the elevation of Justice Clarence Thomas to Chief Justice: “I’d have to think about that,” Specter equivocated. Ditto for Justice Antonin Scalia: “I’d have to think about that too.” Specter once slandered Justice Thomas as a “disappointment.”

The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee must be someone devoted to the Constitution as written and the rule of law

    The situation is urgent. Chief Justice Rehnquist is gravely ill. A Supreme Court vacancy is imminent.

  • President Bush may be called upon to nominate a Supreme Court justice within the next several weeks.

  • Court watchers predict as many as three Supreme Court vacancies during President Bush’s second term.

  • President Bush will likely have a historic, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to return the Supreme Court to constitutionalist principles.

  • The President needs as chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee a loyal, reliable, conservative partner who will shepherd his nominees through the confirmation process.

  • Under intense political pressure, Specter tried to recant portions of his post-election statements the day after he uttered them. That means nothing. His 20-year record of party disloyalty and tormenting conservative nominees means everything.

  • As chairman, Specter will act as a vexatious intermeddler, second-guessing President Bush’s Supreme Court and lower court nominations. This imperils the President’s legacy.

  • Under the Senate’s seniority rules, Specter is slated to take over the Judiciary Committee, but under Senate rules and procedures, he can be stopped from becoming committee chairman.

  • The window of opportunity to stop Specter is limited. Once he becomes chairman, it will be impossible to unseat him.

19 posted on 11/06/2004 3:28:06 AM PST by Happy2BMe (It's 10 PM on November 2nd, 2004 - DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR VOTES ARE?)
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To: Happy2BMe

Great post!

Everyone - keep up the pressure. Sounds like Bush is giving in to Specter who claims he will "play nice." Why should we have to go on his promises when they are in stark contrast to his record. We should go with someone who we can count on based on a consistently good track record.

20 posted on 11/08/2004 4:47:18 AM PST by IrishBrewer
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