Pro-Abortion Arlen Specter’s Move to Democrats Could Hurt Supreme Court Pick
by Steven Ertelt
May 1, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — In an ironic twist of fate, the defection of pro-abortion Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania to the Democratic Party could have an effect on the upcoming battle over a Supreme Court nominee. The battle will likely see pro-life advocates opposing a pro-abortion nomination from President Barack Obama.
When Obama nominates a replacement for retiring pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice David Souter, that nomination will head to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings and a vote.
The committee requires the consent of at least one Republican to end debate and move a nominee to the full Senate for a vote.
Specter, the former ranking minority member of the Republican Party on the committee, would have been the most likely GOP lawmaker to sign off on Obama’s nomination.
Without his presence and vote, the rest of the members of the GOP on the panel could band together to oppose a pro-abortion nominee and prevent the confirmation process from moving ahead. In such a case, Democrats would likely have to present a motion to change the Senate’s rules to block the option of the minority to exercise its opposition — a move that could result in significant political fallout.
William Jacobson, a professor of law at Cornell University, told FOX News, "I think, in narrow terms, it could present a procedural problem at the committee level, unless the Democrats are going to change the rules of the committee midstream."
"Most people presume in a controversial nomination that Arlen Specter would have been the one most likely to vote with Democrats, since he prides himself on being independent of Republicans. But now that he moves over to the Democratic side, the president and Democrats lost their most likely minority vote," Jacobson explains.
Changing the rules could also prompt a backlash from Specter himself, who enjoys the traditions of the Senate and could vote to support his former party colleague if they see their rights taken away by ruling Democrats.
With Specter not able to provide the needed Republican vote, speculation turns to pro-life South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Graham was a member of the Gang of 14, a group of seven Democrats and seven Republicans who worked together to prevent filibusters of President Bush’s high court picks.
With Specter’s switching parties, all of the rest of the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are pro-life on abortion.
In another twist, Specter’s party switch also means he will no longer be the ranking minority member of the panel and GOP lawmakers will have to decide on a replacement. They could support Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who has been a committee chairman before and would need a waiver, or they could support the next senator in line, Charles Grassley of Iowa.
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