Senator Specter Deservedly Under Fire

November 5, 2004

As most of you are surely aware Pennsylvania Republican Senator Arlen Specter is in line for chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Specter got the attention of social conservatives and constitutionalists everywhere Wednesday with remarks indicating he would oppose pro-life judicial appointees for the United States Supreme Court. (By the way, I don’t like referring to constitutionalist judges as “pro-life” or “anti-abortion,” because a judge who honors the Constitution through the principle of judicial restraint, ideally does not inject his own moral or philosophical preferences into the equation. He merely interprets the law according to the framers’ original intent as to the Constitution and its plain meaning. As the Constitution is inarguably silent on the subject of abortion by any stretch, and provides for no federal right of privacy, constitutionalist justices would never have usurped the states’ authority over the question of abortion.

Nevertheless, we are where we are in constitutional history and for now, Roe v. Wade is on the books, and has been since 1973. If Specter is saying that he would use his power as chairman of the Judiciary Committee to oppose justices who would reverse Roe and subsequent cases, he deserves to be opposed with vigor for that coveted chairmanship.

Specter tried to backpedal from his Wednesday statement on Thursday, saying he would impose “no litmus test” on President Bush’s nominees concerning the abortion question.

This sounds a bit Kerryesque to me. Will he or won’t he? And who does he think he is, anyway? He’s just one man and I don’t care if he’s chairman or not, he has no business talking about what he will unilaterally impose about anything. His disrespect for the Constitution is evident in his Wednesday statement, but at the very least he ought to recognize that he is just one man, in one legislative body — that happens to have the advise and consent power over judicial appointments. But that power is not a veto power. It does not confer on the Senate coequal authority with the president over judicial appointments. Aside from his reckless statements on abortion, if Specter is this full of himself already — as to any issue — he has no business chairing that important Senate committee, in my humblest of opinions.

We’ll see how this plays out, but our antennae should be extended to the highest reaches at this point.