Rightsided Newsletter – the specter of Specter
The listserv has been acting up, so I'm not certain if this evening's RSN made it to the sundry global Inboxes. You can read it here.
The opening essay:
Senator Arlen Specter. He owes his seat, to a large extent, to President Bush and conservative Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania), but Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) is very open about his distaste for conservatism.
In a press conference on November 4, Specter defended Roe v. Wade as settled law and warned the President not to nominate anyone who would try to overturn it [transcript]:
[T]he President is well aware of what happened when a number of his nominees were sent up, were filibustered, and the President has said he is not going to impose a litmus test, he faced that issue squarely in the third debate and I would not expect the President, I would expect the President to be mindful of the considerations that I mentioned.So the President has been warned to be mindful of Specter's pro-abortion test.
James Dobson of Focus on the Family lit up against Specter first. Grassroots PA.com has become a font of anti-Specter propaganda, as has the popular NRO blog The Corner.
Here's how it will happen. In January, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee will meet to select their chairman. Because of a 1995 rule change, this will be accomplished via a secret ballot; this is important, as conservative Senators can vote nay without fear of retaliation based on certainty.
Those voting will be Senators Orrin Hatch of Utah, Charles Grassley of Iowa, Jon Kyl of Arizona, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Larry Craig of Idaho, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, and John Cornyn of Texas.
Chairman Hatch will probably vote for Specter out of respect for the standard procedure; Grassley will probably vote for Arlen; Craig will probably vote for Arlen; DeWine will probably vote for Arlen.
Sessions might vote against; Chambliss might vote against; and Cornyn might vote against.
Graham and Kyl, though staunchly anti-abortion, are question marks in my mind.
A lot of this depends on what Majority Leader Bill Frist says and does, He is said to be considering a run for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2008, and he has to know that some voters might not forgive an endorsement of Specter. And Congressional Quarterly reported Wednesday:
"If Specter cannot gain the support of his colleagues during the post-election session of the 108th Congress that begins Nov. 16, he may be unable to weather several more weeks of attacks."This is probably the best hope for those who do not wish to see a Constitutional liberal become head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, especially when the GOP has control of the body. Jon Kyl is next on the seniority list, and there has been talk of altering the rules to allow Hatch to keep the job for two more years. (Why only two? Perhaps in hope that the elderly justices will retire in that time frame.)
The matte, for many,r boils down to whether or not one wants a Judiciary Committee chairman who goes into this looking unfavorably upon judicial nominees who do not agree that Roe v. Wade is law of the land and thus inviolate. That has long been Specter's stance, and it is one echoed by JF Kerry in the third Presidential debate, when he stated that Roe was as much a part of the Constitution as the First Amendment.
It is possible that Specter could be "bought off" the Judiciary Committee chairmanship with the offer of chairing the Appropriations Committee; of course, that will end his quest to quell those whom he has called "the far right fringe." And it is conceivable, though unprecedented, that he could have conditions placed on his chairmanship.
And Specter's problems extend beyond abortion. (He will not single-handedly block an anti-abort nominee, and his lack of enthusiasm should not be a problem.) Roger Clegg in NRO discusses Arlen's fancy for racial quotas. And Gun Owners of America oppose Arlen on 2nd Amendment grounds. For me, it's larger than any issue or two, or any daft statement uttered at a press conference. Arlen Specter is not a principled man, and the Constitution is too important to be tossed around by a man who believes Robert Bork hasn't a clue.