Tag Archives: Arlen Specter

On his way out the door, Specter blasts Roberts, Alito (access required)

Sen. Arlen Specter, the Republican-turned-Democrat veteran Pennsylvania senator whose long Senate career ended with a failed reelection bid, gave his final speech on the floor of the Senate this week – and his words included a sharp jab at two conservative members of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Specter, who once chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee as a Republican, took aim at Bush appointees Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito in his swan song speech, accusing them of “eroding the constitutional mandate of separation of powers,” Politico reports.

Although Specter voted in favor of both justices as a member of the Judiciary Committee, he criticized their votes in cases such as Citizens United v. FEC, which relaxed rules governing campaign contributions by corporations.

“Ignoring a massive congressional record and reversing recent decisions, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito repudiated their confirmation testimony given under oath and provided the key votes to permit corporations and unions to secretly pay for political advertising – thus effectively undermining the basic Democratic principle of the power of one person, one vote,” said Specter. “Chief Justice Roberts promised to just call balls and strikes and then he moved the bases.”

Specter said it was part of a pattern of conservative justices saying one thing during their confirmation hearings and doing another on the bench.

“The Supreme Court has been eating Congress’ lunch by invalidating legislation with judicial activism after nominees commit under oath in confirmation proceedings to respect congressional fact finding and precedents,” Specter said.

Monday status conference: Document dumps, delays, and decisions!

Remember way back when Elena Kagan was first nominated to the Supreme Court? And folks were saying that, because she is not a former judge, she wouldn’t have much of a paper trail?

Well, it looks like that may not be true.

The Clinton presidential library (Kagan previously worked in the Clinton administration) has identified about 168,000 pages of documents that may be of interest to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Will committee members have enough time to wade through that documentation before Kagan’s confirmation hearings are scheduled to begin on June 28? The committee’s ranking member, Sen. Jeff Sessions, doesn’t think so. He’s calling for a delay, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire.

But wait, there’s more! Perhaps the record won’t be that voluminous after all. Former President Clinton could object to the release of the some the documents, citing executive confidentiality.

Meanwhile, this morning the current justices of the Supreme Court will get back to doing what they do: releasing orders and opinions. Check back here for any newsworthy developments.


Open up: As part of a Food and Drug Administration initiative to help consumers, stakeholders and others understand how the agency operates and makes decisions, a task force has unveiled 21 draft transparency proposals for public comment. (Lawyers USA)

The lawyer’s lawmaker: Sen. Arlen Specter’s election defeat marks the end of a 30-year career for the longtime member of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee who often pressed for progress on issues important to lawyers. (Lawyers USA)

New deputy in town: James Cole is President Obama’s nominee for deputy attorney general. (ABA Journal, Washington Post)

When to end a sentence? The U.S. Sentencing Commission will hear testimony on issues including mandatory minimum sentences at its scheduled hearing this week. (BLT Blog)

Specter checks out on card check

Labor organizations and other supporters of the controversial “card check” legislation were dealt a blow yesterday when a key lawmaker announced he no longer supports the measure.

specterSen. Arlen Specter, who was an original sponsor of legislation that would allow employees to unionize using cards to show majority support for a union rather than through an election, said yesterday he would vote against cloture on the measure, giving GOP lawmakers sufficient votes to filibuster on the legislation, even if Democrat Al Franken wins the Minnesota Senate race.

“The problems of the recession make this a particularly bad time to enact Employees Free Choice legislation. Employers understandably complain that adding a burden would result in further job losses,” Specter said on the Senate floor yesterday. “If efforts are unsuccessful to give Labor sufficient bargaining power through amendments to the [National Labor Relations Act], then I would be willing to reconsider Employees’ Free Choice legislation when the economy returns to normalcy.”

Specters decision is based in part of political concerns. Facing increased pressure from both union groups and business organization, Specter would face a tough GOP primary season in his 2010 reelection bid.

Senate to vote on SG pick Kagan today

elenakaganToday the Senate is set for a confirmation vote on Elena Kagan, nominated by President Barack Obama in January to be solicitor general. But at least one high-ranking lawmakers isn’t sold on the candidate.

specterSen. Arlen Specter, the highest ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said yesterday that Kagan, Harvard Law School’s dean who is said to also be on Obama’s Supreme Court short list, still hasn’t clarified her views on warrantless surveillance and a host of other matters.

In February, Kagan submitted a series of supplemental responses to queries by Specter and other lawmakers. (See some of the responses here on DC Dicta). But Specter said Kagan did not provide “sufficient answers” to his questions, Politico reports.

Debate over Kagan’s nomination is set to start at 2 p.m., and could last as long as 6 hours before a final vote is called.