Arlen Specter Preparing Pledge to Support President Bush’s Judicial Picks

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 18, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Arlen Specter Preparing Pledge to Support President Bush’s Judicial Picks Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 18, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Pro-abortion Republican Senator Arlen Specter appears to be lining up the support he needs to become the next chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. However, even though pro-life groups may not be able to prevent that from happening, they seem to have won an important concession from him.

Though he has made verbal pledges to do so, Specter is drafting a statement pledging to have quick nomination hearings and votes on President Bush’s judicial nominees, regardless of their views on abortion.

The Pennsylvania Republican backs abortion and said shortly after the election that pro-life judicial picks would have a difficult time being confirmed.

That set off a firestorm of protest from pro-life groups concerned that Specter could use the panel’s top spot to block pro-life selections for key federal appeals courts or the Supreme Court.

Though it is undergoing last-minute changes before being unveiled to the press, according to Republican sources who spoke with the Associated Press, a draft of Specter’s statement pledges to not impose a litmus test on which judicial nominees can get a hearing and a quick committee vote.

However, the statement doesn’t offer Specter’s unconditional support, by way of a vote, for the judicial nominees.

The statement may also reflect an agreement that has possibly been reached by Senate Republicans and the Pennsylvania senator to support an effort to change Senate rules on filibusters.

Senate Republicans, hoping to forestall a new round of filibusters by abortion advocates, are looking to change the filibuster rule to allow the parliamentary tactic only on votes not related to nominations.

Previously, those senators support a disputed Bush nominee had to find 60 votes to stop debate and vote on confirmation. The rule change will allow debate to be stopped with a simple majority.

One Republican official said Specter’s first draft of the statement did not support that effort, and Senate Republicans may be asking him to strengthen the language.

Senate Democrats blocked 10 of Bush’s federal appeals courts nominees last year at the behest of abortion advocacy groups.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has been in talked with new Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid regarding the rules change.

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