Senate Majority Leader Says Arlen Specter Must Defend Abortion Comments

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 14, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Majority Leader Says Arlen Specter Must Defend Abortion Comments Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 14, 2004

Washington, DC ( — The Senate Majority Leader in interviews on Sunday said that pro-abortion Pennsylvania Republican Senator Arlen Specter must make the case to GOP colleagues that he should be the next chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Specter has come under fire after remarks nearly two weeks ago saying that any pro-life judicial nominees President Bush puts forward would have a difficult time getting approval once he chairs the key committee.

Senator Bill Frist, the Tennessee Republican who leads the GOP in the upper chamber, says Specter must prove that he should be allowed to attain the chairmanship of the committee. Specter was previously headed to gavel the Judiciary Committee by virtue of his seniority and term-limits that require Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch to yield the post.

Specter must be responsible "to the feelings, the wishes, the beliefs, the values, the procedures that are held by the majority of that committee," Frist said in an interview Sunday.

Frist, who would not say if she supported Specter for the post, told "Fox News Sunday" that Specter’s comments "were disheartening to me. They were disheartening to a lot of different people."

First said whomever heads up the key post should "have a strong predisposition" to supporting the president’s nominee in committee and the full Senate.

Specter has since backed off from his remarks that pro-life judicial nominees would be "unlikely" to make it past his committee and sought to assure pro-life advocates and Senate Republicans that he will support every one Bush’s nominees, regardless of their abortion stance.

Specter is planning to meet with Republican members of the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to make his case that he should be slotted for the chairmanship.

The controversial comments prompted an aggressive response from pro-life groups, which have waged an intense lobbying campaign to prevent Specter from heading up the judicial panel.

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

Senator Frist also discussed how he might prevent abortion advocates in the Senate from using filibusters to prevent judicial nominees from receiving a vote, as they did with 10 different nominations of pro-life advocates to federal appeals courts.

One idea is the so-called "nuclear option" whereby Senate Republicans would change Senate rules to only allow filibusters on votes not concerning judicial nominees.

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