Arlen Specter Wants Senate Republican Meeting to Resolve Abortion Dispute

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 10, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Arlen Specter Wants Senate Republican Meeting to Resolve Abortion Dispute Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 10, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Pro-abortion Pennsylvania Republican Senator Arlen Specter, who has been at the center of a national controversy surrounding his expected rise as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wants to meet with Senate Republicans to assure them he will be a team player when it comes to confirming President Bush’s judicial nominees.

Pro-life Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) says Specter wants to meet with Republican members of the committee when the Senate reconvenes next week for its lame-duck session.

Because of his seniority, Specter was expected to take the helm of the important judicial committee, but his comments last week suggesting pro-life picks for key federal courts wouldn’t get approved sparked tremendous national outrage and hundreds of thousands of phone calls to lawmakers.

Specter has since backed off from those comments and sought to assure pro-life advocates and Senate Republicans that he will support Bush’s nominees.

That backpedaling has made many senators reluctant to speak out in opposition to Specter and may have salvaged his chairmanship.

"Based on what he told me yesterday — if that is his position and if it is his public position and it is one we can rely on going forward — I would not have an objection to him serving as chairman," Cornyn told reporters Wednesday.

According to a Reuters report, pro-life Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, who does not hold a seat on the Judiciary Committee, also said he supports Specter as chairman.

"In the last four years, he has supported every judgeship that has been put forward" by President Bush, Gregg told the news agency. "He’s a tough guy, he knows how to run a committee, and he’s very effective, and I think he’ll be a strong chairman of that committee and a great benefit to the president."

Many observers believe Specter will survive the fallout from his comments but some pro-life senators may vote against him.

With the vote taking place in a secret ballot, no one will know for certain who did or did not back Specter as the incoming chairman when the votes are cast next January.

In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, Specter called the battle over his chairmanship "a battle for balance in the Republican Party and in America."

"I think that being the only pro-choice Republican on the Judiciary Committee makes me suspect," he said. "And it makes me suspect without cause on this issue of whether I would block pro-life nominees on a litmus test."

He told the Inquirer that he had spoken with all nine of the current Republican members of the committee and that the general response to him was favorable.

Yet, pro-life groups still want someone else to head up the important committee.

"There has been some question as to why the battle over the Senate Judiciary Committee chairmanship is so important for social conservatives. It comes down to the simple fact that
the chairman of a committee controls the schedule, staff, and philosophy of the committee," Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said.

"The prospect of Chairman Specter in the Judiciary Committee is a real and present threat to pro-life judges," Perkins explained. "We know Arlen Specter is hostile to pro-life judges.

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