Arlen Specter

Arlen Specter

Overview
Arlen Specter is a former United States Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 from Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

. Specter is a Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

, but was a Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 from 1965 until switching to the Democratic Party in 2009. Elected to the Senate in 1980, Specter staked out a spot in the political center.

Specter was born in Wichita, Kansas
Wichita, Kansas
Wichita is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kansas.As of the 2010 census, the city population was 382,368. Located in south-central Kansas on the Arkansas River, Wichita is the county seat of Sedgwick County and the principal city of the Wichita metropolitan area...

 to a Russian immigrant father and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

. He later served with the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 during the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

, graduated from Yale Law School
Yale Law School
Yale Law School, or YLS, is the law school of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Established in 1824, it offers the J.D., LL.M., J.S.D. and M.S.L. degrees in law. It also hosts visiting scholars, visiting researchers and a number of legal research centers...

, and opened a law firm with Marvin Katz
Marvin Katz
Marvin Katz was a United States federal judge.Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Katz received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1951 and an LL.B. from Yale Law School in 1954. He was in private practice in Philadelphia from 1954 to 1977, serving as a law clerk for Judge Francis X...

, who would later become a federal judge.
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Quotations

I would suggest respectfully to the president that he is not the sole decider. The decider is a shared and joint responsibility.

In a hearing on Congress's War Powers (January 30, 2007)

Resolutions are flying like snowflakes around here.

In a hearing on Congress's War Powers (January 30, 2007)
Encyclopedia
Arlen Specter is a former United States Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 from Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

. Specter is a Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

, but was a Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 from 1965 until switching to the Democratic Party in 2009. Elected to the Senate in 1980, Specter staked out a spot in the political center.

Specter was born in Wichita, Kansas
Wichita, Kansas
Wichita is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kansas.As of the 2010 census, the city population was 382,368. Located in south-central Kansas on the Arkansas River, Wichita is the county seat of Sedgwick County and the principal city of the Wichita metropolitan area...

 to a Russian immigrant father and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

. He later served with the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 during the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

, graduated from Yale Law School
Yale Law School
Yale Law School, or YLS, is the law school of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Established in 1824, it offers the J.D., LL.M., J.S.D. and M.S.L. degrees in law. It also hosts visiting scholars, visiting researchers and a number of legal research centers...

, and opened a law firm with Marvin Katz
Marvin Katz
Marvin Katz was a United States federal judge.Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Katz received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1951 and an LL.B. from Yale Law School in 1954. He was in private practice in Philadelphia from 1954 to 1977, serving as a law clerk for Judge Francis X...

, who would later become a federal judge. Additionally, Specter served as assistant counsel for the Warren Commission
Warren Commission
The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known unofficially as the Warren Commission, was established on November 27, 1963, by Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963...

 investigating the assassination of John F. Kennedy
Assassination of John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas...

 and helped devise the "single bullet theory
Single bullet theory
The single bullet theory was introduced by the Warren Commission in its investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to explain what happened to the bullet which struck Kennedy in the back and exited through his throat...

." In 1965, Specter was elected District Attorney of Philadelphia
District Attorney of Philadelphia
The Office of the District Attorney of Philadelphia is the largest prosecutor's office in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest in the nation. It serves the more than 1.5 million citizens of the City and County of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The current District Attorney of Philadelphia is Seth...

, a position that he would hold until he lost his re-election bid in 1973. In 1980, Specter was elected for the first time to the U.S. Senate for Pennsylvania.

On April 28, 2009, Specter announced that, after 44 years as an elected Republican, he was switching membership to the Democratic Party, On May 18, 2010, Specter was defeated in the Democratic primary by Joe Sestak. He was replaced by current Senator Pat Toomey
Pat Toomey
Patrick Joseph "Pat" Toomey, Sr. is the junior United States Senator for Pennsylvania and a member of the Republican Party. Previously, Toomey served as a U.S. Representative for three terms, but did not seek a fourth in compliance with a pledge he had made while running for office in 1998...

 on January 3, 2011.

In fall 2011, Specter will teach a course at the University of Pennsylvania Law School
University of Pennsylvania Law School
The University of Pennsylvania Law School, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the law school of the University of Pennsylvania. A member of the Ivy League, it is among the oldest and most selective law schools in the nation. It is currently ranked 7th overall by U.S. News & World Report,...

 on the relationship between Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court, focusing on separation of powers and the confirmation process.

Early life


Specter was born in Wichita, Kansas
Wichita, Kansas
Wichita is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kansas.As of the 2010 census, the city population was 382,368. Located in south-central Kansas on the Arkansas River, Wichita is the county seat of Sedgwick County and the principal city of the Wichita metropolitan area...

, the youngest child of Lillie Shanin (Arlen's son Shanin Specter is named after her), and Harry Specter, who grew up in the Bachkuryne village of Cherkasy Oblast
Cherkasy Oblast
Cherkasy Oblast is an oblast of central Ukraine located along the Dnieper River. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Cherkasy).-Geography:...

, Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

. Specter claimed in his memoir Passion for Truth that his father's family was the only Jewish family in the village. The family lived at 940 South Emporia Street in Wichita before moving to Russell, Kansas
Russell, Kansas
Russell is the most populous city in and county seat of Russell County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 4,506.-History:...

 where he graduated from Russell High School in 1947. He was raised in the Jewish
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 faith in Russell, also the hometown of fellow politician Bob Dole
Bob Dole
Robert Joseph "Bob" Dole is an American attorney and politician. Dole represented Kansas in the United States Senate from 1969 to 1996, was Gerald Ford's Vice Presidential running mate in the 1976 presidential election, and was Senate Majority Leader from 1985 to 1987 and in 1995 and 1996...

 (who graduated Russell High School in 1941). Specter said that his father weighed items from his junkyard on a scale owned by Dole's father Doran Dole (who owned a granary). He said his brother Morton and Dole's brother Kenny were contemporaries and friends.

Specter's father served in the U.S. infantry during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and was badly wounded. During the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

, Specter's father was a fruit peddler, a tailor, and a junkyard owner.

After graduating from Russell High School, Specter studied first at the University of Oklahoma
University of Oklahoma
The University of Oklahoma is a coeducational public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. Founded in 1890, it existed in Oklahoma Territory near Indian Territory for 17 years before the two became the state of Oklahoma. the university had 29,931 students enrolled, most located at its...

. He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

, majored in International Relations, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1951. Specter said the family moved to Philadelphia when his sister Shirley was of a marriageable age because there were no other Jews in Russell.

During the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

, he served stateside in the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 from 1951 to 1953 and obtained the rank of Second Lieutenant within the Air Force Office of Special Investigations
Air Force Office of Special Investigations
The Air Force Office of Special Investigations , is a Field Operating Agency of the United States Air Force that provides professional investigative services to commanders throughout the Air Force...

.

Specter graduated from Yale Law School
Yale Law School
Yale Law School, or YLS, is the law school of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Established in 1824, it offers the J.D., LL.M., J.S.D. and M.S.L. degrees in law. It also hosts visiting scholars, visiting researchers and a number of legal research centers...

 in 1956 and was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar. That year, he married Joan Levy. They reside in the East Falls section of Philadelphia. They have two sons: Shanin and Steve; and four grandchildren: Silvi, Perri, Lilli, and Hatti.

After graduating from Yale Law School, Specter opened a law practice, Specter & Katz, with the late Marvin Katz
Marvin Katz
Marvin Katz was a United States federal judge.Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Katz received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1951 and an LL.B. from Yale Law School in 1954. He was in private practice in Philadelphia from 1954 to 1977, serving as a law clerk for Judge Francis X...

, who served as a Federal District Court Judge in Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

 until his death in October 2010. Specter became an assistant district attorney under District Attorney
District attorney
In many jurisdictions in the United States, a District Attorney is an elected or appointed government official who represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses. The district attorney is the highest officeholder in the jurisdiction's legal department and supervises a staff of...

 James Crumlish, and was a member of the Democratic Party.

Warren Commission


At the recommendation of Representative
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

, he worked for the Warren Commission
Warren Commission
The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known unofficially as the Warren Commission, was established on November 27, 1963, by Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963...

, investigating the assassination of John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

. As an assistant counsel for the commission, he authored or co-authored the "single bullet theory
Single bullet theory
The single bullet theory was introduced by the Warren Commission in its investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to explain what happened to the bullet which struck Kennedy in the back and exited through his throat...

," which suggested the non-fatal wounds to Kennedy and wounds to Texas Governor
Governor of Texas
The governor of Texas is the head of the executive branch of Texas's government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Texas Legislature, and to convene the legislature...

 John Connally
John Connally
John Bowden Connally, Jr. , was an influential American politician, serving as the 39th governor of Texas, Secretary of the Navy under President John F. Kennedy, and as Secretary of the Treasury under President Richard M. Nixon. While he was Governor in 1963, Connally was a passenger in the car in...

 were caused by the same bullet. This was a crucial assertion for the Warren Commission, since if the two had been wounded by separate bullets within such a short time frame, that would have demonstrated the presence of a second assassin and therefore a conspiracy
Conspiracy (crime)
In the criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future, and, in some cases, with at least one overt act in furtherance of that agreement...

.
A further investigation by the House Committee on Assassinations in the late 1970s reaffirmed the single bullet theory, though concluded a conspiracy was likely owing to acoustic evidence. Numerous authors have raised doubts over the plausibility of the theory and have concluded a conspiracy was likely, though most conclude Oswald acted alone.

Seeks political office


In 1965, Specter ran for district attorney
District attorney
In many jurisdictions in the United States, a District Attorney is an elected or appointed government official who represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses. The district attorney is the highest officeholder in the jurisdiction's legal department and supervises a staff of...

 for the city of Philadelphia, on the Republican ticket as a registered Democrat. He handily beat incumbent Jim Crumlish
James C. Crumlish, Jr.
James C. "Jim" Crumlish, Jr. was an American attorney and politician. He served as the District Attorney of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between 1962 and 1966, and as a judge of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania from 1970 until his death.-Early life:...

, and subsequently changed his registration to Republican. Although a supporter of capital punishment
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

, as prosecutor he questioned the fairness of the Pennsylvania death penalty statute in 1972.

In 1967, he was the Republican Party standard bearer, together with City Controller candidate, Tom Gola
Tom Gola
Thomas Joseph Gola is a retired American basketball player.-Early Life:Gola was praised as a great all-around player as a high school student at La Salle College High School, where he led the Explorers to a Philadelphia Catholic League Championship...

, in the Philadelphia mayor
Mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

al campaign against the Democratic incumbent James Tate. One of their slogans was, "We need THESE guys to watch THOSE guys." He served two terms as district attorney for the city of Philadelphia, but was handily defeated in his bid for a third term in 1973 by noted criminal defense attorney Emmett Fitzpatrick.

In 1976, Specter ran in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate and was defeated by John Heinz
H. John Heinz III
Henry John Heinz III was an American politician from Pennsylvania, a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate .-Early life:...

. In 1978, he was defeated in the primary for Governor of Pennsylvania by Dick Thornburgh
Dick Thornburgh
Richard Lewis "Dick" Thornburgh is an American lawyer and Republican politician who served as the 41st Governor of Pennsylvania from 1979 to 1987, and then as the U.S...

. After several years of private practice with the prestigious Philadelphia law firm Dechert, Price & Rhoads, Specter ran for the Senate in 1980, this time, successfully. He assumed office in January 1981.

Hodgkin's disease


On February 16, 2005, Specter announced that he had been diagnosed with an advanced form of Hodgkin's lymphoma
Hodgkin's lymphoma
Hodgkin's lymphoma, previously known as Hodgkin's disease, is a type of lymphoma, which is a cancer originating from white blood cells called lymphocytes...

, a type of cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

. Despite this, Specter continued working during chemotherapy
Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with an antineoplastic drug or with a combination of such drugs into a standardized treatment regimen....

. He ended treatment on July 22. Senator John Sununu
John E. Sununu
John Edward Sununu is a former Republican United States Senator from New Hampshire, of Lebanese and Palestinian Christian ancestry. Sununu was the youngest member of the Senate for his entire six year term. He is the son of former New Hampshire Governor John H...

 (R-New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

) shaved his head to show solidarity with Specter when he was undergoing chemotherapy and was temporarily bald. On April 15, 2008, he announced his cancer had returned, at a stage "significantly less advanced than his Hodgkin's disease when it was originally diagnosed in 2005." He underwent a second round of chemotherapy, which ended on July 14, 2008.

Senate career



Specter was first elected to the Senate in 1980. He is the longest-serving Senator in Pennsylvania's history; no one else from the state has been elected to five terms in that body. According to polls by Quinnipiac University
Quinnipiac University
Quinnipiac University is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational university located in Hamden, Connecticut, United States at the foot of Sleeping Giant State Park...

, Specter has a higher approval rating among Democrats in Pennsylvania than Republicans, 62–55 respectively.

His opposition to Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork
Robert Bork
Robert Heron Bork is an American legal scholar who has advocated the judicial philosophy of originalism. Bork formerly served as Solicitor General, Acting Attorney General, and judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit...

 in 1987 is seen as an important factor in the nomination's failure. However, he raised the ire of many feminists with his aggressive questioning of Anita Hill
Anita Hill
Anita Faye Hill is an American attorney and academic—presently a professor of social policy, law and women's studies at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management. She became a national figure in 1991 when she alleged that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had...

 during the Clarence Thomas
Clarence Thomas
Clarence Thomas is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Succeeding Thurgood Marshall, Thomas is the second African American to serve on the Court....

 hearings in 1991, claiming she had committed "flat-out perjury
Perjury
Perjury, also known as forswearing, is the willful act of swearing a false oath or affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to a judicial proceeding. That is, the witness falsely promises to tell the truth about matters which affect the outcome of the...

" in her testimony.

In 1998 and 1999, Specter criticized the Republican Party for the impeachment
Impeachment of Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton, President of the United States, was impeached by the House of Representatives on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice on December 19, 1998, but acquitted by the Senate on February 12, 1999. Two other impeachment articles, a second perjury charge and a charge of abuse of...

 of President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

. Believing that Clinton had not received a fair trial, Specter cited Scots law
Scots law
Scots law is the legal system of Scotland. It is considered a hybrid or mixed legal system as it traces its roots to a number of different historical sources. With English law and Northern Irish law it forms the legal system of the United Kingdom; it shares with the two other systems some...

 to render a verdict of "not proven
Not proven
Not proven is a verdict available to a court in Scotland.Under Scots law, a criminal trial may end in one of three verdicts: one of conviction and two of acquittal ....

" on Clinton's impeachment. However, his verdict was recorded as "not guilty" in the Senate records.

On October 11, 2002, Arlen Specter voted in favor of H.J.Res.114
Iraq Resolution
The Iraq Resolution or the Iraq War Resolution is a joint resolution passed by the United States Congress in October 2002 as Public Law No: 107-243, authorizing military action against Iraq.-Contents:The resolution cited many factors to justify the use of military force against...

 authorizing the Iraq War.

In a 2002 PoliticsPA
PoliticsPA
- Content :The website focuses on news aggregation, linking to major political news making headlines across the state. The editors write occasional features, like the weekly "Up & Down" scorecard and one-off lists like "Harrisburg's Smartest Staffer" and "Best Dressed Lobbyist" lists...

 Feature story
Feature story
- Published Features & news :While the distinction between published features and news is often clear, when approached conceptually there are few hard boundaries between the two. It is quite possible to write a feature in the style of a news story, for instance...

 designating politicians with yearbook superlatives
Yearbook
A yearbook, also known as an annual, is a book to record, highlight, and commemorate the past year of a school or a book published annually. Virtually all American, Australian and Canadian high schools, most colleges and many elementary and middle schools publish yearbooks...

, he was named the "Toughest to Work For." In 2003, the Pennsylvania Report
Pennsylvania Report
The Pennsylvania Report is an independent bi-weekly subscription-based political newspaper published in Pennsylvania. It is "widely read by the state's political junkies." It was founded in 1985 by David Buffington, a former public relations worker for the Pennsylvania Government.It provides...

,
a subscription-based political newsletter, described Specter as one of the "vanishing breed of Republican moderates" and described his political stance as "'Pennsylvania first' middle of-the-road politics" even though he was known as an "avid Republican partisan."

Soon after the 2004 election, Specter stepped into the public spotlight as a result of controversial statements about his views of the future of the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

. At a press conference, he stated that: Activist groups interpreted his comments as warnings to President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 about the implications of nominating Supreme Court justices who are opposed to the Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade, , was a controversial landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Court decided that a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion,...

decision. Specter maintained his comments were a prediction, not a warning. He met with many conservative Republican senators, and based on assurances he gave them, he was recommended for the Judiciary Committee's chairmanship in late 2004. He officially assumed that position when the 109th Congress convened on January 4, 2005.

On March 9, 2006, the USA PATRIOT Act
USA PATRIOT Act
The USA PATRIOT Act is an Act of the U.S. Congress that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001...

 was signed into law. It amended the process for interim appointments of U.S. Attorneys, a clause which Specter wrote during his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The change allowed the Bush Administration
George W. Bush administration
The presidency of George W. Bush began on January 20, 2001, when he was inaugurated as the 43rd President of the United States of America. The oldest son of former president George H. W. Bush, George W...

 to appoint interim U.S. attorneys without term limits, and without confirmation by the Senate. The Bush administration used the law to place at least eight interim attorneys into office in 2006. Specter claims that the changes were added by staff member Brett Tolman
Brett Tolman
Brett Tolman was the United States Attorney for the District of Utah from July 2006 to December 2009. Before becoming U.S. Attorney, Tolman worked as counsel in the Senate Judiciary Committee for committee chairs Orrin Hatch and then Arlen Specter during the 109th United States Congress...

. For more information, see dismissal of U.S. Attorneys controversy
Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy
The dismissal of U.S. Attorneys controversy was initiated by the unprecedented midterm dismissal of seven United States Attorneys on December 7, 2006 by the George W. Bush administration's Department of Justice. Congressional investigations focused on whether the Department of Justice and the White...

.

Specter was very critical of Bush's wiretapping of U.S. citizens without warrants
NSA warrantless surveillance controversy
The NSA warrantless surveillance controversy concerns surveillance of persons within the United States during the collection of foreign intelligence by the U.S. National Security Agency as part of the war on terror...

. When the story first broke, he called the effort "inappropriate" and "clearly and categorically wrong." He said, he intended to hold hearings into the matter early in 2006, and had Alberto Gonzales
Alberto Gonzales
Alberto R. Gonzales was the 80th Attorney General of the United States. Gonzales was appointed to the post in February 2005 by President George W. Bush. Gonzales was the first Hispanic Attorney General in U.S. history and the highest-ranking Hispanic government official ever...

 appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer for the program (although Specter declined to force Gonzales to testify under oath). On January 15, 2006, Specter mentioned impeachment and criminal prosecution
Movement to impeach George W. Bush
During the presidency of George W. Bush, several American politicians sought to either investigate Bush for allegedly impeachable offenses, or to bring actual impeachment charges on the floor of the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee...

 as potential remedies if Bush broke the law, though he downplayed the likelihood of such an outcome.

On April 9, 2006, Specter, speaking on Fox News about the Bush administration's leaking of classified intelligence, said that "The president of the United States owes a specific explanation to the American people".

However, he voted for the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which placed federal electronic searches
Search and seizure
Search and seizure is a legal procedure used in many civil law and common law legal systems whereby police or other authorities and their agents, who suspect that a crime has been committed, do a search of a person's property and confiscate any relevant evidence to the crime.Some countries have...

 almost entirely within the executive branch.

During the 2007–2008 National Football League
2007 NFL season
The 2007 NFL season was the 88th regular season of the National Football League.Regular-season play was held from September 6 to December 30....

 season, Specter wrote to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
Roger Goodell
Roger S. Goodell is the Commissioner of the National Football League , having been chosen to succeed the retiring Paul Tagliabue on August 8, 2006. He was chosen over four finalists for the position, winning a close vote on the fifth ballot before being unanimously approved by acclamation of the...

 concerning the destruction of New England Patriots
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots, commonly called the "Pats", are a professional football team based in the Greater Boston area, playing their home games in the town of Foxborough, Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium. The team is part of the East Division of the American Football Conference in the National...

 Spygate tapes, wondering if there was a link between the tapes and their Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles are a professional American football team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They are members of the East Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

. On February 1, 2008, Roger Goodell stated that the tapes were destroyed because "they confirmed what I already knew about the issue." Specter would release a follow up statement:

Since 2007, Specter has sponsored legislation to fix a longstanding inequity in American law which shuts out a majority of U.S. Armed Forces service members from equal access to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2007, Specter cosponsored the Equal Justice for United States Military Personnel Act of 2007 with Senators Dianne Feinstein
Dianne Feinstein
Dianne Goldman Berman Feinstein is the senior U.S. Senator from California. A member of the Democratic Party, she has served in the Senate since 1992. She also served as 38th Mayor of San Francisco from 1978 to 1988....

 (D-Calif.), Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Russ Feingold
Russ Feingold
Russell Dana "Russ" Feingold is an American politician from the U.S. state of Wisconsin. He served as a Democratic party member of the U.S. Senate from 1993 to 2011. From 1983 to 1993, Feingold was a Wisconsin State Senator representing the 27th District.He is a recipient of the John F...

 (D-Wis.). The bill failed in the 110th Congress, and Specter again cosponsored the measure in the 2009 111th Congress.

In December 2008, Specter was involved in a controversy as a result of telling "Polish jokes" at New York's Rainbow Room while speaking at the annual meeting of the Commonwealth Club.

Specter voted in favor of the Senate's version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, abbreviated ARRA and commonly referred to as the Stimulus or The Recovery Act, is an economic stimulus package enacted by the 111th United States Congress in February 2009 and signed into law on February 17, 2009, by President Barack Obama.To...

 on February 10, 2009; he was one of only three Republicans to break ranks with the party and support the bill, which was favored by President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 and was unanimously supported by the Democratic senators. As a result of his support, many in the Republican mainstream have begun to set up ads calling for his removal from office. Specter was instrumental in ensuring that the act allocated an additional $10 billion to the National Institutes of Health
National Institutes of Health
The National Institutes of Health are an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and are the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research. Its science and engineering counterpart is the National Science Foundation...

 over the next two years. Since becoming a Democrat in the Senate, Specter has been denied seniority on Senate committees.

In Oct. 2009 Specter called for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act
Defense of Marriage Act
The Defense of Marriage Act is a United States federal law whereby the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. Under the law, no U.S. state may be required to recognize as a marriage a same-sex relationship considered a marriage in another state...

, which he supported in 1996.

In Nov. 2009, Specter introduced a bill to require televising U.S. Supreme Court proceedings
Supreme Court of the United States, televised
Supreme Court of the United States, televised, refers to the debate over televising proceedings of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court has never allowed cameras in its courtroom, but it does make audiotapes of oral arguments and opinions available to the public...

, and explained "[t]he Supreme Court makes pronouncements on constitutional and federal law that have direct impacts on the rights of Americans. Those rights would be substantially enhanced by televising the oral arguments of the Court so that the public can see and hear the issues presented."

His career in the United States Senate ended on January 3, 2011. He was succeeded by Pat Toomey
Pat Toomey
Patrick Joseph "Pat" Toomey, Sr. is the junior United States Senator for Pennsylvania and a member of the Republican Party. Previously, Toomey served as a U.S. Representative for three terms, but did not seek a fourth in compliance with a pledge he had made while running for office in 1998...

.

Committee assignments


Specter holds the following committee assignments:
  • Committee on Appropriations
    United States Senate Committee on Appropriations
    The United States Senate Committee on Appropriations is a standing committee of the United States Senate. It has jurisdiction over all discretionary spending legislation in the Senate....

    • Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Defense
      United States Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense
      The U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense is one of twelve subcommittees of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations. Military defense spending is the largest individual component of federal discretionary spending, making the Defense Subcommittee one of the more powerful...

    • Subcommittee on Homeland Security
      United States Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security
      U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security is one of twelve subcommittees of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations. It was formally established in 2003 in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 to oversee national security programs and the newly created...

    • Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
      United States Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
      United States Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs is one of twelve subcommittees of the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations.-Jurisdiction:...

    • Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
  • Committee on Environment and Public Works
    United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
    The United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is responsible for dealing with matters related to the environment and infrastructure.-Members, 112th Congress:...

    • Subcommittee on Children's Health
      United States Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Children's Health
      The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Children's Health is one of seven subcommittees of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.-Jurisdiction:According to the Committee's website:-Members, 111th Congress:...

    • Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health
    • Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
      United States Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
      The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure is one of seven subcommittees of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The subcommittee's jurisdiction includes:*Transportation...

  • Committee on the Judiciary
    United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
    The United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary is a standing committee of the United States Senate, of the United States Congress. The Judiciary Committee, with 18 members, is charged with conducting hearings prior to the Senate votes on confirmation of federal judges nominated by the...

    • Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights
      United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights
      The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights is one of seven subcommittees within the Senate Judiciary Committee.-Jurisdiction:...

    • Subcommittee on the Constitution
    • Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs
      United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs
      The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs is one of seven subcommittees within the Senate Judiciary Committee.-Jurisdiction:Jurisdiction: Oversight of the Department of Justice's Criminal Division; Drug Enforcement Administration; Executive Office of the U.S. Attorneys; Violence...

       (Chair)
    • Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law
  • Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    The United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs deals with oversight of United States veterans issues.-Members, 112th Congress:The Committee is chaired by Democrat Patty Murray of Washington, and the Ranking Member is Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina.Source: -Chairmen of the Senate...

  • Special Committee on Aging
    United States Senate Special Committee on Aging
    The United States Senate Special Committee on Aging was initially established in 1961 as a temporary committee; it became a permanent Senate committee in 1977...



Specter was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 1995, when the Republicans gained control of the Senate, until 1997, when he became chairman of the Committee on Veterans Affairs. He chaired that committee until 2001 and again from 2003 to 2005, during the times the Republicans controlled the Senate. He also chaired the Judiciary Committee from 2005 to 2007.

Campaigns


In 1980, Specter became the Republican nominee for Senate when Republican incumbent Richard Schweiker
Richard Schweiker
Richard Schultz Schweiker is a former U.S. Congressman and Senator representing the state of Pennsylvania. He later was Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Cabinet of President Ronald Reagan.-Early life:...

 announced his retirement. He faced the former Mayor of Pittsburgh, Pete Flaherty
Peter F. Flaherty
Peter Francis "Pete" Flaherty was an American politician from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.He served as Assistant District Attorney of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania from 1957 to 1964; a City of Pittsburgh Councilman 1966 to 1970; Democratic mayor of Pittsburgh from 1970 to 1977; United States Deputy...

. Specter won the election by a 2.5% margin. He was later reelected in 1986, 1992, 1998 and 2004, despite 1992 and 1998 being bad years for Republicans. Specter ran for reelection in 2010
United States Senate election in Pennsylvania, 2010
The 2010 United States Senate election in Pennsylvania took place on November 2, 2010, during the 2010 midterm elections. Incumbent Republican-turned-Democrat U.S. Senator Arlen Specter ran for re-election to a sixth term, but lost in the Democratic primary to Joe Sestak. Republican nominee Pat...

, for the first time as a Democrat, but was defeated in the Primary.

1996 presidential bid



On March 31, 1995, Specter announced his candidacy for President of the United States, to challenge the incumbent Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

. He entered the race claiming his party needed a candidate who did not conform to the stereotypical religious conservative image. He was critical of Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson
Pat Robertson
Marion Gordon "Pat" Robertson is a media mogul, television evangelist, ex-Baptist minister and businessman who is politically aligned with the Christian Right in the United States....

 and Ralph Reed
Ralph E. Reed, Jr.
Ralph Eugene Reed, Jr., is a conservative American political activist, best known as the first executive director of the Christian Coalition during the early 1990s. He sought the Republican nomination for the office of Lieutenant Governor of Georgia but lost the primary election on July 18, 2006,...

, saying all three were far too conservative.

His campaign focused on balancing the federal budget, strict crime laws, and establishing relations with North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

. His candidacy was not expected to succeed in winning the Republican nomination due to the overwhelmingly large number of social conservatives in the Republican Party. He was, however, able to gain support. Although fellow Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum
Rick Santorum
Richard John "Rick" Santorum is a lawyer and a former United States Senator from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Santorum was the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference -making him the third-ranking Senate Republican from 2001 until his leave in 2007. Santorum is considered both a social...

 was never overly enthusiastic, he was supportive. Other supportive Republicans were hopeful Specter could trim the party's "far-right fringe." Although his campaign was ultimately unsuccessful at wooing conservatives, it was widely believed he could have had a strong showing among independents. On November 23, 1995, before the start of the primaries, Specter suspended his campaign to endorse Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

 Senator Bob Dole
Bob Dole
Robert Joseph "Bob" Dole is an American attorney and politician. Dole represented Kansas in the United States Senate from 1969 to 1996, was Gerald Ford's Vice Presidential running mate in the 1976 presidential election, and was Senate Majority Leader from 1985 to 1987 and in 1995 and 1996...

.

2004 campaign


In 2004, Specter faced a challenge in the Republican primary election
Primary election
A primary election is an election in which party members or voters select candidates for a subsequent election. Primary elections are one means by which a political party nominates candidates for the next general election....

 from conservative Congressman Pat Toomey
Pat Toomey
Patrick Joseph "Pat" Toomey, Sr. is the junior United States Senator for Pennsylvania and a member of the Republican Party. Previously, Toomey served as a U.S. Representative for three terms, but did not seek a fourth in compliance with a pledge he had made while running for office in 1998...

, whose campaign theme was that Specter was not fiscally conservative
Fiscal conservatism
Fiscal conservatism is a political term used to describe a fiscal policy that advocates avoiding deficit spending. Fiscal conservatives often consider reduction of overall government spending and national debt as well as ensuring balanced budget of paramount importance...

 enough. The match-up was closely watched nationally, being seen as a symbolic clash between the conservative
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 and moderate
Moderate
In politics and religion, a moderate is an individual who is not extreme, partisan or radical. In recent years, political moderates has gained traction as a buzzword....

 wings of the Republican Party. However, most of the state and national Republican establishment, including the state's other senator at the time, Rick Santorum
Rick Santorum
Richard John "Rick" Santorum is a lawyer and a former United States Senator from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Santorum was the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference -making him the third-ranking Senate Republican from 2001 until his leave in 2007. Santorum is considered both a social...

 closed ranks behind Specter. Specter was strongly supported by President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

. Specter narrowly avoided a major upset with 51 percent of the primary vote. Once Specter defeated the challenge from the right, he was able to enjoy great support from independents and some Democrats in his race against Hoeffel. Hoeffel also trailed Specter in name recognition, campaign funds and poll results. Although the two minor candidates were seen as more conservative than Specter, they were only able to take four percent of the vote and Specter was easily reelected.

2010 campaign



Specter was up for re-election to the Senate in 2010, and expressed his plans to run again. On March 18, 2009, Specter said that he was not considering running as an independent. He said, "To eliminate any doubt, I am a Republican, and I am running for reelection in 2010 as a Republican on the Republican ticket." Subsequently Specter's 2004 conservative GOP primary challenger, Pat Toomey
Pat Toomey
Patrick Joseph "Pat" Toomey, Sr. is the junior United States Senator for Pennsylvania and a member of the Republican Party. Previously, Toomey served as a U.S. Representative for three terms, but did not seek a fourth in compliance with a pledge he had made while running for office in 1998...

, announced he will again run for the Republican nomination in the Republican senatorial primary.

However, on April 28, 2009, Specter stated that "As the Republican Party has moved farther and farther to the right, I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy of the Democratic Party." He said that he was switching party affiliation and would run as a Democrat in the 2010 election. In the same announcement, Specter also said that he had "surveyed the sentiments of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania and public opinion polls, observed other public opinion polls and have found that the prospects for winning a Republican primary are bleak." A March 2009 Quinnipiac poll indicated that Specter trailed his likely primary challenger, Pat Toomey, by 14 percent (41 percent for Toomey, 27 percent for Specter). Additional polling found that 70 percent of Pennsylvania Republicans disapproved of his recent vote in favor of the Stimulus Bill
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, abbreviated ARRA and commonly referred to as the Stimulus or The Recovery Act, is an economic stimulus package enacted by the 111th United States Congress in February 2009 and signed into law on February 17, 2009, by President Barack Obama.To...

 and that 52 percent of Pennsylvania Republicans disapprove of the job he is doing. Following Specter's switching parties, Republican National Committee
Republican National Committee
The Republican National Committee is an American political committee that provides national leadership for the Republican Party of the United States. It is responsible for developing and promoting the Republican political platform, as well as coordinating fundraising and election strategy. It is...

 chairman Michael Steele criticized his leaving the Republican Party, claiming that Specter had "flipped the bird
Finger (gesture)
In Western culture, the finger , also known as the middle finger, is an obscene hand gesture, often meaning the phrases "fuck off" , "fuck you" or "up yours"...

" at the GOP.

On February 6, 2010, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party
Pennsylvania Democratic Party
The Pennsylvania Democratic Party is the local branch of the United States Democratic Party in the state of Pennsylvania. The party has had strong support in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia area for a long time, having controlled the mayoral office in Philadelphia since 1952, and the Pittsburgh...

 overwhelmingly endorsed U.S. Senator Arlen Specter at the Democratic State Committee's annual endorsement convention which was held in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Lancaster County, known as the Garden Spot of America or Pennsylvania Dutch Country, is a county located in the southeastern part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in the United States. As of 2010 the population was 519,445. Lancaster County forms the Lancaster Metropolitan Statistical Area, the...

. Specter defeated Joe Sestak by winning over 77% of the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee members vote which far exceeds the 2/3 threshold needed to claim the endorsement. Sestak, however, went on to win the Democratic primary nomination on May 18.

Personal reputation


Over Specter's long and notable legislative career, numerous sources from within the U.S. Senate reported that they found it difficult to work with him. For example, when Specter was still a Republican, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott
Trent Lott
Chester Trent Lott, Sr. , is a former United States Senator from Mississippi and has served in numerous leadership positions in the House of Representatives and the Senate....

 needed him to sign off on an appropriations bill. However, Specter refused to sign the document unless Lott flew out to Pennsylvania to attend two fund raisers for him. Lott agreed, but this incident only contributed to a reputation which earned Specter the nickname "Snarlin' Arlen".
Similarly, Specter gained a reputation among U.S. Embassy staff for condescending treatment and unreasonable demands such as organizing squash tournaments on his behalf.

Political views


According to the National Journal
National Journal
National Journal is a nonpartisan American weekly magazine that reports on the current political environment and emerging political and policy trends. National Journal was first published in 1969. Times Mirror owned the magazine from 1986 to 1997, when it was purchased by David G. Bradley...

, Specter voted with Democrats 90% of the time since he switched parties, while as a Republican Specter split his votes between both parties. According to fivethirtyeight.com
FiveThirtyEight.com
FiveThirtyEight is a polling aggregation website with a blog created by Nate Silver. Sometimes colloquially referred to as 538 dot com or just 538, the website takes its name from the number of electors in the United States electoral college...

, between January–March 2009 Specter voted with the Democrats 58% of the time. Following the support of the stimulus package and the entrance of Pat Toomey
Pat Toomey
Patrick Joseph "Pat" Toomey, Sr. is the junior United States Senator for Pennsylvania and a member of the Republican Party. Previously, Toomey served as a U.S. Representative for three terms, but did not seek a fourth in compliance with a pledge he had made while running for office in 1998...

 in the Republican primary, Specter began to vote 16% with Democrats. When switching to become a Democrat, he voted 69% with his new party initially, until Joe Sestak entered the Democratic primary and Specter started to vote 97% of the time.

Abortion


Specter states that he is "personally opposed to abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

", but is "a supporter of a woman's right to choose
Pro-choice
Support for the legalization of abortion is centered around the pro-choice movement, a sociopolitical movement supporting the ethical view that a woman should have the legal right to elective abortion, meaning the right to terminate her pregnancy....

". He received a 20 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America
NARAL Pro-Choice America
NARAL Pro-Choice America , formerly the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, then National Abortion Rights Action League, and later National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, is an organization in the United States that engages in political action to oppose...

 in 2005 based on certain votes related to the regulation of abortion; in 2008, he received 100 percent

Gay rights


Specter supports LGBT rights
LGBT social movements
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender social movements share inter-related goals of social acceptance of sexual and gender minorities. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their allies have a long history of campaigning for what is generally called LGBT rights, also called gay...

. He voted to prohibit job discrimination based on sexual orientation
Sexual orientation
Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, or neither, and the genders that accompany them. By the convention of organized researchers, these attractions are subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality,...

, and was a co-sponsor of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act
Matthew Shepard Act
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act, is an American Act of Congress, passed on October 22, 2009, and signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 28, 2009, as a rider to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010...

. Specter is opposed to same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

, but is also opposed to a federal ban and supports civil union
Civil union
A civil union, also referred to as a civil partnership, is a legally recognized form of partnership similar to marriage. Beginning with Denmark in 1989, civil unions under one name or another have been established by law in many developed countries in order to provide same-sex couples rights,...

s. Specter also voted in favor of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Don't ask, don't tell
"Don't ask, don't tell" was the official United States policy on homosexuals serving in the military from December 21, 1993 to September 20, 2011. The policy prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing closeted homosexual or bisexual service members or applicants, while...

 in the lame-duck session of the 111th Congress.

Gun control


Specter strongly opposes most gun control
Gun control
Gun control is any law, policy, practice, or proposal designed to restrict or limit the possession, production, importation, shipment, sale, and/or use of guns or other firearms by private citizens...

, voting against the Brady Bill, background checks at gun show
Gun show
A gun show is a temporary exhibition or gathering in the United States where firearms, firearm accessories, ammunition, literature, knives, jerky, militaria, and miscellaneous collectibles are displayed, bought, sold, traded, and discussed. Gun shows also often include exhibitions related to...

s, the ban on assault weapons, and trigger lock
Trigger lock
A trigger lock is a device designed to prevent a firearm from being discharged while the device is in place. Generally, two pieces come together from either side behind the trigger and are locked in place, which can be unlocked with a key or combination. This physically prevents the trigger from...

s for handguns.

Affirmative action


He supports affirmative action
Affirmative action
Affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including "race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin" into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination.-Origins:The term...

 and voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1991
Civil Rights Act of 1991
The Civil Rights Act of 1991 is a United States statute that was passed in response to a series of United States Supreme Court decisions which limited the rights of employees who had sued their employers for discrimination...

, receiving a 76 percent rating from the NAACP in 2008. He was one of only four Republicans to vote against the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act
Private Securities Litigation Reform Act
The United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Pub. L. 104-67, 109 Stat. 737 implemented several substantive changes affecting certain cases brought under the federal securities laws, including changes related to pleading, discovery, liability, class representation, and...

 and in recent years has been less enthusiastic about weakening so-called consumer protection laws than many members of his party. In 1995 he was the only Republican to vote to limit tax cuts to individuals with incomes of less than one million dollars. He voted against CAFTA. Specter also supports an increase in the federal minimum wage
Minimum wage
A minimum wage is the lowest hourly, daily or monthly remuneration that employers may legally pay to workers. Equivalently, it is the lowest wage at which workers may sell their labour. Although minimum wage laws are in effect in a great many jurisdictions, there are differences of opinion about...

. He is a leading supporter of the U.S. Public Service Academy
United States Public Service Academy
The United States Public Service Academy is a proposed institution of higher education. The Academy would be a federally-subsidized four-year college modeled on the United States military service academies devoted to public service....

.

Illegal immigration


On immigration, Specter supports a "pathway to citizenship" and a "guest worker program" which opponents call amnesty
Amnesty
Amnesty is a legislative or executive act by which a state restores those who may have been guilty of an offense against it to the positions of innocent people, without changing the laws defining the offense. It includes more than pardon, in as much as it obliterates all legal remembrance of the...

. He introduced Senate bill S. 2611 (the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006) on April 6, 2006, which was passed by the Senate on May 25, 2006 before reaching a stalemate in the House.

Public option


On May 3, 2009 Specter went on Meet the Press
Meet the Press
Meet the Press is a weekly American television news/interview program produced by NBC. It is the longest-running television series in American broadcasting history, despite bearing little resemblance to the original format of the program seen in its television debut on November 6, 1947. It has been...

 and was asked "Would you support health care reform that puts up a government run public plan to compete with a private plan issued by a private insurance company?" Specter said no. Two months later, he changed his position and he now supports it.

Single payer


Specter believes single payer healthcare should not be "taken off the table," according to an interview he had with John King
John King (journalist)
John King is an American journalist and is the anchor of John King, USA which appears weeknights at 7pm/ET on CNN. He is also the former anchor of State of the Union with John King...

 on CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

.

Votes


On health care reform
Health care reform in the United States
Health care reform in the United States has a long history, of which the most recent results were two federal statutes enacted in 2010: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act , signed March 23, 2010, and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 , which amended the PPACA and...

, Specter was a cosponsor of the Healthy Americans Act
Healthy Americans Act
The Healthy Americans Act , also known as the Wyden-Bennett Act, is a Senate bill that proposes to improve health care in the United States by transitioning away from how currently employers typically purchase their employees' health insurance for them, to having individuals purchase their own...

, a proposal he supported during both the 110th and 111th Congresses. Specter voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a United States federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. The law is the principal health care reform legislation of the 111th United States Congress...

, the healthcare bill passed through the Senate by every Democratic senator, on a party-line vote.

Card check


Specter has received a 61 percent rating from AFL-CIO
AFL-CIO
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, commonly AFL–CIO, is a national trade union center, the largest federation of unions in the United States, made up of 56 national and international unions, together representing more than 11 million workers...

. He voted for cloture
Cloture
In parliamentary procedure, cloture is a motion or process aimed at bringing debate to a quick end. It is also called closure or, informally, a guillotine. The cloture procedure originated in the French National Assembly, from which the name is taken. Clôture is French for "ending" or "conclusion"...

 on the Employee Free Choice Act
Employee Free Choice Act
The Employee Free Choice Act was a legislative bill that was introduced into both chambers of the U.S. Congress on March 10, 2009. The bill's purpose was to,...

 in 2007. In early 2009, Specter announced that he would not be voting for cloture on the same act in the 111th Congress. After Specter switched parties, he changed his position on the issue yet again and wrote a letter to the unions that he supported card check legislation.

Privacy; computers


Spurred by the 2010 case of Robbins v. Lower Merion School District, in which two high schools admitted to secretly taking 66,000 webcam photos and screenshots of students in their homes on school-issued laptops, Specter held a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs on March 29, 2010. He said: "The issue is one of surreptitious eavesdropping. Unbeknownst to people, their movements and activities were under surveillance." Specter said he believes existing wiretap and video-voyeurism statutes do not adequately address concerns in today's era of widespread use of cell-phone, laptop, and surveillance cameras. He said that Lower Merion's use of laptop cameras for surveillance convinced him that new federal legislation was needed to regulate electronic privacy.

Specter then introduced legislation in April 2010 to amend the federal Wiretap Act to clarify that it is illegal to capture silent visual images inside another person's home. He said: "This is going to become law. You have a very significant invasion of privacy with these webcams, as more information is coming to light." Speaking on the floor of the Senate, he said:
Many of us expect to be subject to ... video surveillance when we leave our homes and go out each day—at the ATM, at traffic lights, or in stores, for example. What we do not expect is to be under visual surveillance in our homes, in our bedrooms, and, most especially, we do not expect it for our children in our homes.

Other


The Jewish daily newspaper The Forward
The Forward
The Forward , commonly known as The Jewish Daily Forward, is a Jewish-American newspaper published in New York City. The publication began in 1897 as a Yiddish-language daily issued by dissidents from the Socialist Labor Party of Daniel DeLeon...

reported in the wake of the July 2009 organ trafficking scandal in the U.S.
Operation Bid Rig
Operation Bid Rig is an ongoing, long-term investigation into political corruption in New Jersey conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey since 2002...

 involving Rabbi Levy Izhak Rosenbaum of Brooklyn that an Organ Trafficking Prohibition Act of 2009, sponsored by Specter, had yet to be officially introduced in the U.S. The preliminary reports cites Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 as a model of a nation that has enacted a law providing benefits for organ donors.

Specter criticized the federal government's policy on cancer, stating the day after Jack Kemp
Jack Kemp
Jack French Kemp was an American politician and a collegiate and professional football player. A Republican, he served as Housing Secretary in the administration of President George H. W. Bush from 1989 to 1993, having previously served nine terms as a congressman for Western New York's 31st...

 — the 1996 Republican vice presidential nominee and former congressman — died of cancer, that Kemp would still be alive if the federal government had done a better job funding cancer research.

See also

  • List of select cases of Hodgkin's disease
  • Party switching in the United States
    Party switching in the United States
    In the United States politics, party switching is any change in party affiliation of a partisan public figure, usually one who is currently holding elected office...


External links





Articles

Legislation sponsored or cosponsored
The following table links to the Congressional Record
Congressional Record
The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. It is published by the United States Government Printing Office, and is issued daily when the United States Congress is in session. Indexes are issued approximately every two weeks...

 hosted by the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

. All the specifics and actions taken for each individual piece of legislation that Specter either sponsored or cosponsored can be viewed in detail there. "Original bills" and "'Original amendments" indicate instances where Sen. Specter pledged to support the legislation at the time it was initially introduced and entered into the Senate record, rather than later in the legislative process.