Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Nonetheless it would be a mistake not to acknowledge Specter's out sized impact on Justice issues and the judiciary in the United States, good and bad. PennLive had a nice summary:
"Perhaps the most famous defeat of any Supreme Court nominee in history was Robert Bork’s in 1987. Many blame — or credit — Arlen Specter, who criticized Bork intensely and was the only Republican on the Judiciary Committee to vote against him. The Senate rejected Bork’s nomination and created a new Washington verb in the process: to Bork — that is, to defeat a nominee through attacks on his or her character.
While Specter blocked one divisive Supreme Court nominee, he helped elevate another amid an even greater firestorm. Oklahoma law professor Anita Hill made national headlines when she accused nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, and Hill’s testimony riveted the nation.
As Hill, who had worked for Thomas, described in lurid detail alleged comments, unwanted advances and pornography on nationwide television, she brought the subject of sexual harassment into the spotlight for the first time. Women nationwide hailed her as a hero and came forth with their own tales of harassment in the workplace.
As a former prosecutor, Specter drew the job of aggressively grilling Hill. He even accused her of 'flat-out perjury.' Thomas was approved, but women’s groups went after Specter with a vengeance in the 1992 election"
After the Clarence Thomas confirmation and in subsequent years as Thomas has supplied consistent votes upholding death penalties, despite Thomas' good moral Catholic upbringing--I held Specter responsible. If you ever want to see a shameful, phony, grand standing, and disgusting performance by a US Senator, Specter's cross-examination of Anita Hill is right up with the best of Joe McCarthy.
And yet, Specter's a complex guy and Clarence Thomas is not the sum-all, there have been moments I'd point to and say, thank God for Arlen Specter. Specter was a voice for common sense on many issues, especially Clinton's impeachment. Hard to believe that at the end of the day, Arlen Specter was too "librul" for the Republican party.