Arlen Specter

Arlen Specter

Infobox Senator | name=Arlen Specter

jr/sr=Senior Senator
term_start=January 5, 1981
alongside=Robert P. Casey Jr.
preceded=Richard Schweiker
order2=Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
term_start2=January 3, 1995
term_end2=January 3, 1997
preceded2=Dennis DeConcini
succeeded2=Richard Shelby
order3=Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs
term_start3=January 3, 1997
term_end3=January 3, 2001
preceded3=Alan K. Simpson
succeeded3=Jay Rockefeller
term_start4=January 20
term_end4=June 6, 2001
preceded4=Jay Rockefeller
succeeded4=Jay Rockefeller
term_start5=January 3, 2003
term_end5=January 3, 2005
preceded5=Jay Rockefeller
succeeded5=Larry Craig
order6=Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
term_start6=January 3, 2005
term_end6=January 3, 2007
preceded6=Orrin Hatch
succeeded6=Patrick Leahy
committees=Appropriations, Judiciary "ranking member", Veterans' Affairs, Special Committee on Aging
date of birth=birth date and age|1930|02|12
place of birth=Wichita, Kansas
occupation= attorney
residence= Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
spouse=Joan Specter
University of Pennsylvania
Yale University
website= [ United States Senator Arlen Specter]
branch=United States Air Force

Arlen Specter (born February 12 1930) is the senior United States Senator from Pennsylvania and a member of the Republican Party. Elected in 1980, he is currently the 16th-most senior member of the U.S. Senate as well as 8th most senior Republican in this body.


Early life and career

Specter was born in Wichita, Kansas, to Jewish parents Lillie Shanin and Harry Specter. [ [ 1 ] ] He was raised in Russell, Kansas (also the hometown of 1996 Republican Presidential nominee Bob Dole). His father's occupations were peddler, tailor and junkyard owner; both his parents had immigrated to the United States from Russia. Specter studied at various universities before and after serving in the United States Air Force from 1951 to 1953, during the Korean War. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in International Relations, in 1951 and from Yale Law School in 1956. He passed the Pennsylvania Bar examination in 1956.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania and Yale Law School, Specter became a prominent lawyer in Philadelphia and active in politics, beginning his political life as a Democrat. At the recommendation of Rep. Gerald R. Ford, he worked for the Warren Commission, investigating the assassination of John F. Kennedy. As an assistant counsel for the commission, he authored or co-authored [Warren Commission staff lawyer Norman Redlich was asked by author Vincent Bugliosi in 2005 whether Specter was the sole author of the single bullet theory and he said, "No, we all came to this conclusion simultaneously." When asked who he meant by "we," he said, "Arlen, myself, Howard Willens, David Belin, and Mel Eisenberg." Specter did not respond to Bugliosi's request for a clarification on the issue. "Reclaiming history: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy", Vincent Bugliosi (W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 2007) Endnotes, pp.301-6] the controversial "single bullet theory," which suggested the non-fatal wounds to President Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally were caused by the same bullet. This was a crucial assertion for the Warren Commission, since if the two had been wounded by separate bullets, that would have demonstrated the presence of a second assassin and therefore a conspiracy. ["Reclaiming history: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy", Vincent Bugliosi (W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 2007) p.456] He eventually became a Republican and scored an upset by winning a 1965 race for District Attorney in Philadelphia, running on an anti-corruption platform against the Democrats. His slogan was, "We need these guys to watch those guys."cite news
title="Watch Those Guys"
author=E.J. Dionne
publisher=Washington Post
date=May 24 2005

He mounted an unsuccessful campaign for mayor of Philadelphia in 1967 and was defeated for re-election to a third term as district attorney in 1973. He was defeated in the 1976 Republican primary for U.S. Senate by John Heinz and in the 1978 primary for Governor of Pennsylvania by Dick Thornburgh.cite news
title=Irritating Them All
date=September 4 2005
publisher=US News and World Report
author=Terence Samuel

Although a death penalty supporter, as prosecutor he questioned fairness of then-Pennsylvania death penalty statute in 1972 [ [,9171,712208,00.html Death Rattles - TIME ] ] .

He also made an abortive bid for the Republican nomination in the 1996 presidential race, before withdrawing and endorsing future nominee Bob Dole. While in private practice, Specter briefly represented the "unicorn killer," Ira Einhorn, who remained at large for years after Specter successfully argued that Einhorn should only pay 10% of his $40,000 bond.

enate career


In 1980, Specter became the Republican candidate for Senate when Republican incumbent Richard Schweiker announced his retirement. Specter won the election and was reelected in 1986, 1992, 1998 and 2004. He is the longest-serving Senator in Pennsylvania's history; no one else from the state has been elected to five terms in that body.

In 2004, Specter faced a challenge in the Republican primary election from conservative Congressman Pat Toomey. Toomey charged that Specter was too much of a liberal and big spender to represent the Republican Party. The match-up was closely watched nationally, being seen as a symbolic clash between the conservative and moderate wings of the Republican Party. However, most of the state and national Republican establishment, including the state's other senator at the time, Rick Santorum, (who was widely seen as only slightly less conservative than Toomey), closed ranks behind Specter. Polls showed that had Toomey won the primary, he would have almost certainly lost to the Democratic candidate, Congressman Joe Hoeffel. Specter was strongly supported by President George W. Bush. Specter narrowly avoided a major upset with 51 percent of the vote. Some considered this primary battle to have damaged his re-election hopes, moving him to the right of his past moderate stances. In the general election, he faced Hoeffel, Betsy Summers of the Libertarian Party, and Constitution Party candidate James Clymer in November 2004's general election. He was easily reelected.

Recent reports suggest that he is planning to run for re-election to his Senate seat in 2010, when he will be 80 years old.cite web
title=Senate 2010: Snarlin' Arlen Wants Another Six Years
author=Jonathan Singer,
date=Monday March 19 2007
publisher=Direct Democracy blog
accessdate=July 16

Specter was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 1995, when the Republicans gained control of the Senate, until 1997, when he became chairman of the Committee on Veterans Affairs. He chaired that committee until 2001 and again from 2003 to 2005, during the times the Republicans controlled the Senate. He also chaired the Judiciary Committee from 2005 to 2007.

Committee Assignments

*Committee on Appropriations
**Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
**Subcommittee on Defense
**Subcommittee on Homeland Security
**Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Ranking Member)
**Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
**Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
*Committee on the Judiciary (Ranking Member)
**As Ranking Member of the full committee, Sen. Specter is an "ex officio" member of all subcommittees.
**Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights
**Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs
**Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights
*Special Committee on Aging
*Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Political leanings


Specter is a leading moderate Republican, reflecting his roots in Kansas and in Philadelphia. He is generally considered pro-choice on abortion (although he received a 50% rating from pro-choice group NARAL) and supports LGBT rights with mixed positions.cite web
title=Congressional Record on Choice by State
accessdate=July 16
] On the immigration issue, Specter supports a "pathway to citizenship" and a "guest worker program" which opponents call amnesty. He introduced Senate bill S. 2611 (the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006) on 6 April 2006, which was passed by the Senate on 25 May 2006 before reaching a stalemate in the House. He supports affirmative action and voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1990. He was one of only four Republicans to vote against the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act and in recent years has been less enthusiastic about weakening consumer protection laws than many members of his party. In 1995 he was the only Republican to vote to limit tax cuts to individuals with incomes of less than one million dollars. He voted against CAFTA. Specter also supports an increase in the federal minimum wage. In part because of these stances, he won his first three reelection bids (1986, 1992, and 1998) during bad years for Republicans.

On the conservative side, he strongly supports the death penalty and opposes most gun control, voting against the Brady Bill, background checks at gun shows, the ban on assault weapons, and trigger locks for handguns. His work has included numerous articles on the deterring effect the death penalty has on future crimes. Fact|date=May 2008

His opposition to Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork is seen as an important factor in the nomination's failure; indeed, many conservative Republicans have never forgiven him for opposing Bork. However, he raised the ire of many Democrats who had supported him for years with his aggressive questioning of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings.

In 1998 and 1999, Specter criticized his own party for its impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Believing that Clinton had not received a fair trial, Specter famously cited Scots law to render a verdict of "not proven" on President Clinton's impeachment. However, his verdict was recorded as "not guilty" in the Senate records.

Specter is a member of The Republican Main Street Partnership and supports stem cell research. He is also a member of The Republican Majority For Choice, Christine Todd Whitman's Its My Party Too, Republicans For Choice and Republicans for Environmental Protection.

On 16 March 2006, Specter upset some conservative Republican activists when he proclaimed, "The Republican Party is now principally moderate, if not liberal!" after securing $7 billion for domestic spending programs. This has only further cemented the attitude of many Republicans that Specter is a "Republican in Name Only."

In April 2006, he was selected by "Time" as one of "America's 10 Best Senators." According to polls by SurveyUSA, Specter has a higher approval rating among registered Democrats in Pennsylvania than Republicans (though the difference is within the margin of error).

Opinions on the Supreme Court

Soon after the 2004 election, Specter stepped into the public spotlight as a result of controversial statements about his views of the future of the Supreme Court. At a press conference, he stated that "when you talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose, overturn Roe vs. Wade, I think [confirmation] is unlikely. The president is well aware of what happened, when a number of his nominees were sent up, with the filibuster. ... And I would expect the president to be mindful of the considerations which I am mentioning." Activist groups interpreted his comments as warnings to President Bush about the implications of nominating Supreme Court justices who are opposed to the "Roe v. Wade" decision.

Specter maintained his comments were a prediction, not a warning. He met with many conservative Republican senators, and based on assurances he gave them, he was recommended for the Judiciary Committee's chairmanship in late 2004. He officially assumed that position when the 109th Congress convened on January 4 2005. The Judiciary Committee is responsible for holding hearings on federal judicial nominations made by the President, including Supreme Court nominees, for oversight of the United States Department of Justice, and for other matters.

Criticism of Bush for wire tapping and classified intelligence leak

Specter has been very critical of President Bush's wiretapping of US persons without warrants. When the story first broke, he called the effort "inappropriate" and "clearly and categorically wrong." He said he intended to hold hearings into the matter early in 2006, and had Alberto Gonzales appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer for the program (though Specter declined to force Gonzales to testify under oath). On January 15 2006, Specter mentioned impeachment and criminal prosecution as potential remedies if President Bush broke the law, though he downplayed the likelihood of such an outcome.

On 9 April 2006, Specter, speaking on Fox News about the Bush administration's leaking of classified intelligence, said that "The president of the United States owes a specific explanation to the American people"cite news
publisher=USA Today
title=Specter urges Bush, Cheney to explain CIA leak
date=April 10 2006
author=David Jackson

However, he voted for the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which placed federal electronic searches almost entirely within the executive branch. []

NFL Destruction of Spygate Tapes

During the 2007-2008 NFL Season, Senator Specter wrote to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell concerning the destruction of New England Patriots Spygate tapes. Comcast Cable is currently involved in a dispute with the NFL with regard to a cable deal concerning the NFL Network. [ [ Comcast wins in NFL Network dispute - ] ] Arlen Specter has taken $153,600 in campaign contributions from Comcast or those affiliated with Comcast as employees or through its PAC. The only firm which has given more money to Specter is the law firm Blank Rome LLP, which represents Comcast and which has given Specter $358,453 although the organization itself did not donate, rather the money came from the organization's PAC, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families. [ ] . Arlen Specter has publicly declared that he would support legislation ending the NFL's anti-trust exemption, allowing local teams to negotiate their own cable contracts to the benefit of Comcast. [ [ ESPN - Sen. Spector taking aim at NFL antitrust exemption - NFL ] ] It appears that Specter may have violated the code of ethics for senators because of the link between his two largest donors and his attack on the NFL. [ [ Attytood: Arlen's tangled Comcastic mess: It's worse than you think ] ] . February 1, 2008, the commissioner stated that the Tapes were destroyed because "they confirmed what I already knew about the issue." Bill Belichick, the team's coach, refused to respond from Glendale, Arizona, the site of Super Bowl XLII, stating "It is a league issue. I know nothing about it."

Specter has had a long history of battles with the NFL. In November 2005, he sought to have the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL investigated for violation of antitrust laws over their handling of Terrell Owens. [ [ ESPN - Specter looks into antitrust issues in Owens' case - NFL ] ] In December 2007, he sought to have the law that allows the National Football League to sign lucrative television contracts on behalf of all 32 teams repealed. [ [ Specter Vows to Lift NFL TV Exemption - 12/7/2006 6:10:00 PM - Multichannel News ] ] In February 2008, he sought to have religious organizations declared exempt from NFL copyright laws. [ [ Politics | Bill defends church Super Bowl parties | Seattle Times Newspaper ] ] Ironically, Specter is known as an avid Philadelphia Eagles fan, as well as, the Philadelphia Phillies. He is a frequent caller to Philadelphia sports radio station 610 WIP during the morning show hosted by Angelo Cataldi.


On June 9 2006 "The Washington Post" reported Specter had proposed legislation that would allow Bush to seek a warrant from a special court for an electronic surveillance program "such as the one being conducted by the National Security Agency." Adding to that, Specter's bill would also grant "blanket amnesty to anyone who authorized warrantless surveillance under presidential authority."cite news
title=Specter Offers Compromise on NSA Surveillance
author=Walter Pincus
publisher=Washington Post
date=Friday, June 9 2006
] Specter denied his bill would grant blanket amnesty, calling it an "erroneous report". [ Specter denies giving Amnesty over NSA wiretapping] , "Crooks and liars", June 11 2006]

"The Philadelphia Inquirer" reported 25 December 2006, that Specter met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the protest of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. [,pubID.25366/pub_detail.asp] , ]

On 9 March 2006, The USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 was signed into law. It amended the process for interim appointments of U.S. Attorneys, written into the bill by Arlen Specter during his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. [cite news
title=Specter Detector
] The change allowed the Bush Administration to appoint interim U.S. attorneys without term limits, and without confirmation by the Senate. The Bush administration used the law to place at least eight interim attorneys into office in 2006. Specter claims that the changes were added by staffer Brett Tolman. [ [ TPMmuckraker | Talking Points Memo | Specter: "I Do Not Slip Things In" ] ] For more information, see dismissal of U.S. Attorneys controversy.

Health problems

On 16 February 2005, Specter announced that he had been diagnosed with an advanced form of Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer. Despite the advanced form, Specter continued working during chemotherapy. He ended treatment on 22 July. Senator John Sununu (R-New Hampshire) shaved his head to show solidarity with Specter when he was undergoing chemotherapy and was temporarily bald. On 15 April 2008, he announced his cancer had returned [ [, Specter Announces Cancer Recurrence] ] , though at a stage "significantly less advanced than his Hodgkin's disease when it was originally diagnosed in 2005." [ [ CNN | April 15 2008 | "Arlen Specter's Hodgkin's disease returns" ] ] He underwent a second round of chemotherapy, which ended on July 14, 2008.

Electoral history

2004 Race for U.S. Senate
*Arlen Specter (R) (inc.), 53%
*Joe Hoeffel (D), 42%2004 Race for U.S. Senate — Republican Primary
*Arlen Specter (R) (inc.), 51%
*Pat Toomey (R), 49%1998 Race for U.S. Senate
*Arlen Specter (R) (inc.), 61%
*Bill Lloyd (D), 35%1998 Race for U.S. Senate — Republican Primary
*Arlen Specter (R) (inc.), 67%
*Larry Murphy (R), 18%
*Tom Lingenfelter (R), 15%1992 Race for U.S. Senate
*Arlen Specter (R) (inc.), 49%
*Lynn Yeakel (D), 47%1992 Race for U.S. Senate — Republican Primary
*Arlen Specter (R) (inc.), 65%
*Stephen Friend (R), 35%1986 Race for U.S. Senate
*Arlen Specter (R) (inc.), 56%
*Bob Edgar (D), 43%1986 Race for U.S. Senate — Republican Primary
*Arlen Specter (R) (inc.), 76%
*Richard Stokes (R), 24%1980 Race for U.S. Senate
*Arlen Specter (R), 50%
*Pete Flaherty (D), 48%1980 Race for U.S. Senate — Republican Primary
*Arlen Specter (R), 36%
*Harold Haabestad (R), 33%
*Ed Howard (R), 13%


ee also

*List of notable brain tumor patients

External links

* [ United States Senator Arlen Specter] official Senate site
* [ US Senate Committee on the Judiciary]

* [ New York Times — Arlen Specter News] collected news and commentary
*cite news
title=Tale of injustice
date=July 16 2007
publisher=Sarasota Herald Tribune

* [ The Magic Bullet; Even More Magical Than We Knew] , Gary Aguilar and Josiah Thompson, "History Matters"
* [ After Yale, Specter Still a Force] , Andrew Mangino, "Yale Daily News", September 23 2005
* [ Interview with Arlen Specter]

U.S. Senator box
before=Richard Schweiker
years=1981 – present
alongside=H. John Heinz III, Harris Wofford,
Rick Santorum, Bob Casey, Jr.

NAME= Specter, Arlen J.
SHORT DESCRIPTION=United States Senator from Pennsylvania
DATE OF BIRTH=February 12 1930
PLACE OF BIRTH= Wichita, Kansas

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