Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania is retiring after a distinguished 30 year career, plus having served in local government, and on the staff of the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy almost a half century ago.
Specter, often seen as a difficult man to work with, and possessing a large ego, lost his Senate nomination race to Joe Sestak after switching back to the Democratic Party that he had long ago been a member of, until he converted for a long time to the Republican Party.
Specter was head of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the hearings for the nominations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito, and today he denounced both Justices for violating their testimony during the hearings, which indicated they believed in precedent (stare decisis), but then proceeding to use judicial activism and violating the separation of powers doctrine, particularly in the Citizens United Case in January of this year, allowing unlimited spending by corporations after nearly a century of strict regulation by Congress of such actions.
So Specter joined the criticism of President Obama, enunciated by the President in his State of the Union Address, which annoyed both Roberts and Alito, with Roberts making a clearcut statement of dissent, amid hints that neither Justice might attend future State of the Union Addresses, which if actually done, would be highly inappropriate.
Specter also condemned right wing Republicans such as Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who worked against moderate Republicans in a number of states, causing the loss of seats for the party.
One thing about Specter–he does not worry what others think of him, and his leaving Congress will make it a less interesting and principled place for sure!