Specter and Extremism

November 7, 2004

I find it annoying when liberals refer to mainstream conservatives as “extremists.” In President Bush’s case, they even refer to moderate conservatives as extremists. I don’t want to get into a discussion here analyzing President Bush’s precise location on the ideological spectrum, except to say that he is hardly an extreme rightwinger. He’s plenty conservative on defense and taxes, and pretty darned conservative on judicial appointments and most social issues, but he’s been less so on domestic spending, especially education, prescription drugs, campaign finance reform, and others.

So it is particularly irksome that Senator Specter, in discussing his role on the Senate Judiciary Committee, boasts that he is proud that he has blocked “extremists,” like Judge Robert Bork, from the Supreme Court.

Judge Bork is an extremist because he is passionate about respecting the Court’s assigned constitutional role of interpreting rather than making law? He is an extremist because he has spoken and written against the abominable decisions (Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, etc.) in which the court, out of whole cloth, manufactured a constitutional right to privacy out of mysterious emanations and penumbras in the Bill of Rights.

Yes, Senator Specter mouths this nauseating liberal line that Bork and judges like him are the extremists. Grassroots PA reports that:

Specter is extremely proud of his opposition to conservative Judge Robert Bork, and would stop another judge like him in a second.

Grassroots offers the following quote from the Bucks County Courier-Times:

Specter said he does use his position on the Senate Judiciary Committee – a panel he will probably begin chairing next year if re-elected – to weed out judges who are extreme. He points to Robert Bork, a Ronald Reagan nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I not only voted against Bork, I led the charge against him,” Specter said.

Just wonderful, Senator. The always informative Powerline Blog, provides a transcript, via NotSpecter.com, of Senator Specter’s appearance on Face the Nation today. I would agree with Powerline’s suspicion that “the potential problems with a Specter Judiciary Committee chairmanship have more to do with his ego than his ideology,” but his ideology provides no greater comfort. I specifically remember Specter showing off during the Bork hearings trying to outsmart Bork. He was so obviously proud of himself as he thought he had Bork cornered on various esoteric constitutional points. And he was extremely patronizing and disrespectful in the process.

So there is no question that Specter is unduly enamored with himself. I will concede Powerline’s point that Specter has a decent record of supporting the president’s nominees, but I am haunted by his proud participation in the borking of Judge Bork, whose worst sin was a firm belief in the proper constitutional role of judges. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but at the very least, even if Specter ascends to the chairmanship of the committee, this brush back he’s receiving from grassroots conservatives ought to help keep him in check.