Pennsylvania Pro-Life Leaders Say No to Arlen Specter Judicial Chairmanship

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 9, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pennsylvania Pro-Life Leaders Say No to Arlen Specter Judicial Chairmanship Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 9, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Pro-life advocates who know Arlen Specter the best say the pro-abortion Pennsylvania Republican senator should not be given the chairmanship of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.

Specter set off a firestorm of controversy last week when he said it was "unlikely" that pro-life judicial nominees would be approved while he was the head of the judicial committee. Since then, Specter has backtracked saying that he has no litmus test and has supported all of President Bush’s judicial picks — including those who are pro-life.

Several pro-life groups held a press conference Monday to highlight their opposition to Specter.

"There are two Arlen Specters – one who runs and the other who serves," said Michael Geer, president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute. "It’s no big surprise this time that we should see the true Arlen Specter. He sent a warning shot to the White House not to send a pro-life candidate to the Judiciary Committee."

"Sen. Specter does not represent the values and morals of the majority of Pennsylvanians or the majority of Americans," added Diane Gramley of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania.

"The success of President Bush’s pro-family, pro-life agenda depends on a Senate Judiciary chairman who shares his views," Gramley said.

Abortion advocates in Pennsylvania acknowledge the power Specter could have to shape the judicial system should he become the committee chairman.

Specter’s position in favor of abortion and his previous record against judges who oppose it was enough to lead the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to endorse him for re-election last week.

"The best argument for his staying on is his seniority, which puts him in line to be the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In that capacity, he would be in a position to block some of the ideologically extreme federal judges likely to be nominated by President Bush in a second term," the newspaper wrote.

The Gazette highlighted Specter’s ability to "to weed out judges who are extreme" noting Specter’s own words about his efforts to defeat pro-life Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, nominated by President Reagan.

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

Michael Ciccocioppo, director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, said, "Specter has demonstrated that his support for legal abortion is stronger than his belief in the Constitution."

Ultimately, pro-life advocates in Pennsylvania say someone else needs to serve as the head of the committee that could help decide the direction of the Supreme Court for the next few decades.

"He himself has given us the ammunition to say: "Hey, we told you so. He can’t be trusted,’" Mary Lou Gartner, secretary of LifePAC of Southwestern Pennsylvania, told Knight Ridder.

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