Sunday, November 07, 2004

Damn You Sir, You Will Try

The Corner has posted the transcript of Arlen Specter's remarks to the press on Nov. 4th 2004. His open intent to frustrate the clear pro-life/strict constructionist agenda of the GOP renders him unfit for the Chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
JORDAN: Senator, you didn't talk about the Judiciary Committee, it is something you are expected to Chair this January. With 3 Supreme Court Justices rumored to retire soon, starting with Rehnquist, how do you see this unfolding in the next couple of months and what part do you intend to play on it?

SPECTER: You know my approach is cautious with respect to the Judiciary Committee. I am in line, Senator Hatch is barred now by term limits and Senate Rules so that I am next in line. There has to be a vote of the Committee and I have already started to talk to some of my fellow committee members. I am respectful of Senate traditions, so I am not designating myself Chairman, I will wait for the Senate procedures to act in do course. You are right on the substance, the Chief Justice is gravely ill. I had known more about that than had appeared in the media. When he said he was going to be back on Monday, it was known inside that he was not going to be back on Monday. The full extent of his full incapacitation is really not known, I believe there will be cause for deliberation by the President. The Constitution has a clause called advise and consent, the advise part is traditionally not paid a whole lot of attention to, I wouldn't quite say ignored, but close to that. My hope that the Senate will be more involved in expressing our views. We start off with the basic fact that the Democrats are have filibustered and expect them to filibuster if the nominees are not within the broad range of acceptability. I think there is a very broad range of Presidential Discretion but there is a range.

ODOM: Is Mr. Bush, he just won the election, even with the popular vote as well. If he wants anti-abortion judges up there, you are caught in the middle of it what are you going to do? The party is going one way and you are saying this.

SPECTER: When you talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose, overturn Roe v Wade, I think that is unlikely. And I have said that bluntly during the course of the campaign and before. When the Inquirer endorsed me, they quoted my statement that Roe v Wade was inviolate. And that 1973 decision, which has been in effect now for 33 years, was buttressed by the 1992 decision, written by three Republican justices-O'Conner, Souter, and Kennedy-and nobody can doubt Anthony Kennedy's conservativism or pro-life position, but that's the fabric of the country. Nobody can be confirmed today who didn't agree with Brown v. Board of Education on integration, and I believe that while you traditionally do not ask a nominee how they're going to decide a specific case, there's a doctorate and a fancy label term, stari decisis, precedent which I think protects that issue. That is my view, now, before, and always.

ODOM: You are saying the President should not bother to send somebody up there like that.

SPECTER: Can't hear you

ODOM: You are saying the President should not bother or make the move to send somebody up there who is clearly anti-abortion.

SPECTER: I don't want to prejudge what the President is going to do. But the 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.

JORDAN: However, Senator the President has President has sent up, as you know, a number of very very conservative judges socially, you have made a point in this campaign of saying that you have supported all of those ______ at least I the last two years, how is this going to square with what you are saying today about wanting the Republican party to be big tent and moderate.

SPECTER: I have been very careful in what I have said and what I have done. The nominees whom I supported in Committee, I had reservations on. As for judge Pryor, there had been an issue as to whether as Attorney General he had raised money, I said in voting him out of committee, that he did not have my vote on the floor until I satisfied myself about collateral matters. The woman judge out of California, who had dismissed a case on invasion of privacy where the doctor had permitted an insurance adjuster to watch a mammogram, I had a reservation on it, so I wanted to talk to her to see if that was aberrational or whether that really reflected her judgment on each and every one of those cases. This may be more detail than you want, but there was one judge for a district judgeship, Judge Holmes, in Arkansas, who was first in his class at the University of Arkansas, had a PhD from Duke, had a master's degree, was touted by both Democratic Arkansas Senators, was supported by 2 pro-choice women, Senator Landrieu and Senator Lincoln, highly regarded in the Arkansas editorial pages, and for a district court judgeship I thought. He had made two statements, and they were, one was in a religious context that a wife should be subservient to a husband, that was in a religious context. Then he made a statement doubting the potential for impregnation from rape, and made an absurd statement that it would be as rare as snow in Florida in July. That was about a 20 year-old statement and I brought him in and sat down, had a long talk with him and concluded that they were not disqualifiers. He was the only judge whom I voted to confirm on the floor vote where any question has been raised and I think that was the right decision for a district court judgeship, not to make that a disqualifier. There are few if any whose record if you go back over 30 or 40 years, and not find some dumb thing, I don't want you to take a to close a look at my 40 year record.

HIGHSMITH: Talk to us a little bit beyond judgeships, you said again today and last night that your goal now is to moderate the party, bring it to the center.

SPECTER: Correct

[BREAK-Bringing the Country Together Question]

[BREAK-Stem Cell Question]

MACINTOSH: What are the characteristics that you are looking for in any candidate for the high court who might come your way in the next year or two?

SPECTER: Well I would like to see a select someone in the mold of Holmes, Brandeis, Cardozo, or Marshall. With all due respect to the U.S. Supreme Court, we don't have one. And I haven't minced any words about that during the confirmation process.


SPECTER: Where I have questioned them all very closely. I had an argument before the Supreme Court of the United States on trying to keep the Navy base, and you should heard what the eight of them had to say to me. They were almost as tough as this gang here this morning.

ODOM: Senator, the judges you mentioned are obviously renown. Are you saying that there are no greatness on there, is that what you're driving at?

SPECTER: Yes. Can you take yes for an answer Vernon? I'm saying that we don't have anybody of the stature of Oliver Wendell Holmes, or Willy Brandeis, or Cardozo, or Marshall. That's what I'm saying. I'm saying that we have a court which they're graduates from the Court of Appeals from the District of Columbia basically, some other Circuit Courts of Appeals. I think that we could use, and I am repeating myself again, a Holmes or a Brandeis.

ODOM: Would you resign to take the appointment? You're the only person I can think of?

SPECTER: I can think of quite a few other people.

JORDAN: Like who?

SPECTER: I think there's some possibility, just a slight possibility, I may not be offered the appointment.

JORDAN: Senator, who do you think would be a good candidate?

SPECTER: For the Supreme Court?


SPECTER: I have some ideas but I'm going to withhold my comments. If, as, and when the President asks that question, Lara, I'll have some specific information for him. In the alternative, if you become President, I'll have it for you.

[BREAK-Election 2010 question]

[BREAK-Iraq questions]

Jordan: Do you expect to continue supporting all of President Bush's judicial nominees?

AS: I am hopeful that I'll be able to do that. That obviously depends upon the President's judicial nominees. I'm hopeful that I can support them.

[BREAK-Election question]

[End Press Conference]

Specter's own words show he considers Roe v. Wade settled, the Democrat filibusters unstoppable, the President's past nominees unworthy, the party too conservative.
What defense, other than the rococo evolutions of the Senate, can be cited in defense of Chairmanship?

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