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SPECTER IGNITES FLAP OVER ABORTION
The New American ^ | December 13, 2004 Issue | John F. McManus

Posted on 12/01/2004 5:13:54 AM PST by JesseHousman

Considering that he is in line to head the Senate Judiciary Committee, which examines judicial nominees for federal courts, Senator Specter’s pro-abortion stance is troubling.

Barring any unforeseen and truly startling developments, Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) will serve as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee for at least the next six years. He won re-election in November, and because Senate rules now bar retention of committee chairmanships beyond eight years, the current chairman, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), must step aside when the new Congress convenes in January. Specter, who is next in seniority, will take the chair.

This means that an outspoken advocate of abortion will lead the important Senate committee that passes first judgment on all nominations for federal judgeships, including those for positions on the Supreme Court. With numerous ailing and aging justices sitting on the high court, vacancies will almost certainly develop.

Pro-life Americans remember that Specter led the fight against approval of Robert Bork, who opposed Roe v. Wade, for a seat on the Supreme Court in 1987. Specter was the lone Republican who joined with the Democrat majority to oppose Bork’s nomination at the Judiciary Committee level. The Pennsylvanian then claimed that he opposed Judge Bork for a variety of reasons, but the pro-life movement has always contended that the matter of abortion was his key motivation. After a bruising session before the Judiciary Committee and 12 days before the entire Senate, Bork’s nomination was rejected 58-42.

During subsequent years, Specter demonstrated his support for abortion in a number of instances. In 1998, he approved the nomination of Dr. David Satcher to be the nation’s Surgeon General. Satcher favored the grisly procedure known as partial-birth abortion.

Also, a non-binding measure known merely as a “sense of the Congress” asked members to register opinions both in 1999 and 2003 on the advisability of overturning Roe v. Wade. Each time, Specter voted to let the infamous 1973 decision stand, thereby solidifying a continuation of the practice that claims close to 1.5 million infants each year.

Early in 2004, conservative Republican Congressman Pat Toomey mounted a primary challenge to the well-entrenched liberal, and the most talked about issue in that campaign was abortion, with Toomey’s outspoken pro-life position standing in clear opposition to Specter’s open advocacy of what he always labels “choice.” When it looked as though Toomey would prevail, President Bush entered the fray: he traveled to Pennsylvania to urge voters to back Specter.

Questioned about his support for an openly avid pro-abortion legislator, Mr. Bush admitted that Specter was “a little bit independent-minded sometimes [but] a firm ally when it matters most.” Contrary to a widely held belief, Mr. Bush obviously doesn’t consider abortion an issue that “matters most.”

That April primary saw Specter squeak by with 527,000 votes to Toomey’s 510,000. President Judie Brown of the American Life League laments that many pro-lifers have become “Republicans first and pro-life next.”

No sooner had the November elections guaranteed a Republican majority in the Senate with Specter in line to lead the Judiciary than Specter told reporters, “When you talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose, overturn Roe v. Wade, I think that is unlikely.” His comment outraged pro-life forces nationwide who flooded Senate leaders with demands that he be denied the Judiciary post. After first stating that Specter’s remarks were “disheartening,” Republican Senate majority leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) held a meeting with the GOP’s Judiciary Committee members and then predicted that Specter would indeed assume the post when the new Congress convenes in January.

For his part, Specter quickly did a strategic backup. In a televised interview on November 14, he stated that he has never required a “litmus test” for judicial nominees. He followed his appearance on ABC TV by issuing a four-paragraph statement claiming that he was merely stating the obvious, not announcing his personal plans. He even advanced the possibility of working to change Senate rules in order to put an end to the practice of blocking nominations with a filibuster.

To try to support Specter, Bush’s chief political adviser Karl Rove entered the fray with assurances that Specter had promised the president that all nominees would receive a prompt hearing at the Judiciary Committee level and a speedy up-and-down vote by the entire Senate. In a TV interview, Rove insisted, “Senator Specter is a man of his word. We’ll take him at his word.” The burning question, however, is which “word” should be relied upon. Less than two weeks before the November election, the October 24, 2004, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette endorsed Specter in his Senate race against Democratic Congressman Joe Hoeffel. Admitting that the editorial board based its choice on “[Specter’s] seniority which puts him in line to be the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” the endorsement pointed out that Specter “promised that no extremists would be approved for the bench.” Simultaneously, the Bucks County Courier Times noted: “Specter said he does use his position on the Senate Judiciary Committee … to weed out judges who are extreme.” The Courier Times revealed that Specter proudly pointed to his effort to block approval of Robert Bork in 1987, and even quoted the senator saying, “I not only voted against Bork, I led the charge against him.”

While Specter was busy seeking to clarify his storm-creating post-election remarks, the interim president of ardently pro-abortion NARAL Pro-Choice America defended the Pennsylvanian. Elizabeth Cavendish claimed to be greatly encouraged by the senator’s remarks about the improbability of overturning Roe v. Wade. And she referred to his remarks “as an important statement to the president that he should not interpret the election results as a mandate to take away fundamental freedoms.”

Republicans have always claimed to be the pro-life party. But that claim can no longer be made credibly. And Senator Arlen Specter is the man most responsible for this remarkable shift.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: abortion; judicialnominees; judiciary; macspecter; proabortionsenator; senate; specter
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MacSpecter will no doubt apply Scottish Law as he toils in his new role.
1 posted on 12/01/2004 5:13:54 AM PST by JesseHousman
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To: JesseHousman

but he promised not to block any judges that are anti-abortion to get the gig. He wouldnt lie right? /sarcasm

do you trust a snake?

he has to know not to bite the hand that feeds him though. We will see how this pans out.


2 posted on 12/01/2004 5:17:15 AM PST by MikefromOhio (39 days until I can leave Iraq for good....)
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To: JesseHousman

We all need to call our loyal,conservative U.S. 'watchdog' Senators on the judicial committee on this....


3 posted on 12/01/2004 5:27:04 AM PST by joesnuffy ("The merit of our Constitution was, not that it promotes democracy, but checks it." Horatio Seymour)
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To: JesseHousman
Specter, who is next in seniority, will take the chair.

Yes, the good-old organized labor seniority-based system. You aren’t going into a function because you’re worth a s#it, you’re going into it because you are entitled, having occupied space for so long.

That’s not to say that experience doesn’t have its place, but Specter wouldn’t be appropriate for the position if he was there 200 years, IMO.

4 posted on 12/01/2004 5:32:30 AM PST by Who dat?
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To: MikeinIraq

When faced with the first nominee who may actually change the balance on the court in a conservative direction, Specter will find some pretext other than abortion for declaring the nominee "extreme" no matter how contorted his reasoning.

Geez, why does Frist think Specter wants to be chairman, anyway? He wants it so bad he did the most remarkable public groveling since Jimmy Swaggart. I don't think he's looking for the prestige of being a lapdog. He wants to be praised for his upcoming "courageous" stand against "extremist" judicial appointments.


5 posted on 12/01/2004 5:34:27 AM PST by wotan
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To: JesseHousman

Wel folks: I stand against Specter, but when you get right down to it , he has to be pretty bad to be any worse that Orrin Hatch. What has Hatch done to get Bush's nominees through the vote? Whatever it was it wasnt enough.


6 posted on 12/01/2004 5:49:09 AM PST by sgtbono2002
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To: wotan

"Concerning a promise Specter had made to some 50 religous leaders while running for reelection in 1986," Specter had made a "firm promise to the religious conservatives" that he would not oppose any of Reagan's nominations to the Supreme Court. (See "Ninth Justice: The Fight for Bork" by McGuigan and Weyrich, p.57.) That promise lasted about as long as it took for Specter to be reelected.

Specter was not to be trusted then; he is not to be trusted now.


7 posted on 12/01/2004 5:52:45 AM PST by gaspar
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To: wotan

Its about Specter building his legacy. The next generation of Supreme Court justices will be known as the 'Specter Court'...not the Bush Court. Just my two cents as a PA constituent.


8 posted on 12/01/2004 5:55:26 AM PST by PennsylvaniaMom (FreeMartha)
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To: sgtbono2002
The other side, thanks to the Clintons, has embarrassing documents and photos of Orrin engaged in kinky sex.

I believe it's a picture of Orrin french-kissing a poodle or something like that.

9 posted on 12/01/2004 6:42:02 AM PST by JesseHousman
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To: Who dat?
I'm really sick of most politicians; especially all DemocRATs and many RepublicRATs!

We keep trying to think of a way to clean house and get rid of the lifers who are responsible for most of the economic and social problems we have, but then we'd have to sweep the Soopreme Kort clean of everyone but Thomas and Scalia. Thomas makes more sense than anyone there.

10 posted on 12/01/2004 6:44:12 AM PST by JesseHousman
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To: cpforlife.org; narses; NYer; Askel5
Questioned about his support for an openly avid pro-abortion legislator, Mr. Bush admitted that Specter was “a little bit independent-minded sometimes [but] a firm ally when it matters most.” Contrary to a widely held belief, Mr. Bush obviously doesn’t consider abortion an issue that “matters most.”

That April primary saw Specter squeak by with 527,000 votes to Toomey’s 510,000. President Judie Brown of the American Life League laments that many pro-lifers have become “Republicans first and pro-life next.”

Republicans have always claimed to be the pro-life party. But that claim can no longer be made credibly. And Senator Arlen Specter is the man most responsible for this remarkable shift.

11 posted on 12/01/2004 6:44:32 AM PST by St. Johann Tetzel (A fool can ask more questions than a wise man can answer.)
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To: joesnuffy

Absolutely. Unfortunately with Boobie Hatch, that's a difficult task.


12 posted on 12/01/2004 6:46:30 AM PST by JesseHousman
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To: MikeinIraq
he has to know not to bite the hand that feeds him though.

I think he does. He can't imagine the level of anger that would descend upon him if he holds up a Bush nominee because of abortion. The "block Specter" movement will pale by comparison.

13 posted on 12/01/2004 7:06:18 AM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: Who dat?
You aren’t going into a function because you’re worth a " ", you’re going into it because you are entitled, having occupied space for so long.

LOL. In the old days when the seniority system was followed like Holy Scripture, you would get doddering old coots who were half-blind and half-mad chairing committees for years and years. It was almost comical if it wasn't so serious.

14 posted on 12/01/2004 7:08:31 AM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: Zack Nguyen

I think he isnt going to block anyone, simply because as a Senator, he has aspirations at the Presidency himself in 2008, which is clearly wide open in the GOP right now...


15 posted on 12/01/2004 7:09:21 AM PST by MikefromOhio (39 days until I can leave Iraq for good....)
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To: wotan
When faced with the first nominee who may actually change the balance on the court in a conservative direction, Specter will find some pretext other than abortion for declaring the nominee "extreme" no matter how contorted his reasoning.

We'll see - if he does that, not only will Capitol Hill freeze with mountains of phone calls from pro-lifers, but Bush will come down on Specter very hard, because he knows that the Republican coalition depends on him getting his judges through.

16 posted on 12/01/2004 7:09:59 AM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: MikeinIraq

Under no circumstances will someone as liberal as Specter be nominated for anything. He has to know that. He just wants his glut of power on the Judiciary committee, and to get his face on television, and to have people call him "Mr. Chairman."


17 posted on 12/01/2004 7:13:25 AM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: Zack Nguyen

true....

But I think (well actually kind of know) that he thinks that he is smarter than everyone (typical liberal) and that he thinks he can outsmart everyone by flip flopping a bit now (havent said that in a month :)) and maybe get a shot...

no way in hell he ever gets the nomination though....


18 posted on 12/01/2004 7:16:50 AM PST by MikefromOhio (39 days until I can leave Iraq for good....)
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To: St. Johann Tetzel

=== Republicans have always claimed to be the pro-life party. But that claim can no longer be made credibly. And Senator Arlen Specter is the man most responsible for this remarkable shift.


This is a lie, of course.

Anyone who has read the 1970 Republican Task Force report on "Earth Resources & Population" knows well that abortion, birth control and the "right" to predetermine the sex of your children (much less environmentalism and the "moral" obligation to control and winnow population so as to avoid "down breeding" and assure "hereditary/genetic quality") all are GOP policies.

But we all know how prone Useful Idiots are to believe Big Lies. Who knew the joke was on us.


19 posted on 12/01/2004 7:23:18 AM PST by Askel5 († Cooperatio voluntaria ad suicidium est legi morali contraria. †)
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To: MikeinIraq

If he does run I hope his candidacy goes down in flames.

You're really in Iraq? Stay safe and thanks for your service!


20 posted on 12/01/2004 7:31:51 AM PST by ISonnet (Kerry: Not the man to fix the US, but still a tool)
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