Specter Wins Support for Judiciary Chairmanship

Specter Wins Support for Chairmanship (ABC News – AP)

Sen. Arlen Specter on Thursday won the support of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Republicans to be their chairman next year, surviving complaints from abortion opponents who lobbied to skip over him in favor of a conservative.

I heard this on C-SPAN radio a bit ago. The support of the committee caucus was unanimous and Specter read a long statement pledging to support Bush nominees, fight to limit the use of the fillibuster of judicial nominees, and to work for tort reform.

Nothing is official until the new Congress is sworn in and a vote is taken. Absent another major gaffe by Specter, however, he’s going to be the Chairman. It appears, though, that he’ll be on a very tight leash. That’s as it should be. As a Senator, he has every right to vote as he pleases. As a member of the GOP leadership team, however, he has a responsibility to fight for the party’s agenda.

Update (1647): Republicans on Senate Judiciary Panel Endorse Specter as Chair (Bloomberg)

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Republican members unanimously endorsed Arlen Specter to be the new chairman after the Pennsylvania lawmaker promised to back President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees. Specter issued a written statement today pledging to give Bush’s nominees “quick committee hearings and early committee votes” so that a Senate confirmation vote “could be promptly scheduled.” “He deserves to be chairman of this committee and he’s going to be,” said Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, the outgoing chairman of the panel. The committee will elect a new chairman after Jan. 4, 2005, when the new Congress convenes.


Specter says news reports mischaracterized his remarks as a “warning” to Bush against nominating judges who oppose abortion rights. The 74-year-old Pennsylvania Republican, who was elected to a fifth term on Nov. 2, said he was just describing the political realities of the Senate.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. austin mls says:

    Any blood is on Hatch’s hands. I hope that the Utah GOP doesn’t forget this if Specter screws up.