Warren Commission

Arlen Specter, A Senate Giant, Leaves Behind A Complicated Legacy As He Dies At Age 82

Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, who died today at age 82, was, without a doubt, a Senate giant, who leaves behind a complicated legacy.

Specter was a Democrat in Philadelphia, turned a Republican, and then, at the end of his career, a Democrat again!

Specter was a liberal Republican who became a moderate, but fought against the conservative trend in his party.

Specter was one of the most influential Jewish Senators in American history, ranking on the level of New York Senator Jacob Javits, Connecticut Senator Abraham Ribicoff, Ohio Senator Howard Metzenbaum, Michigan Senator Carl Levin, New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl, California Senator Dianne Feinstein, California Senator Barbara Boxer, Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, and New York Senator Charles Schumer. Only Javits was a Republican, other than Specter.

Specter was a giant figure on the Judiciary Committee in the Senate, involved in 14 Supreme Court nomination battles, including the stopping of Robert Bork, and the defense of Clarence Thomas, and the impeachment controversy surrounding President Bill Clinton.

Specter was a prickly, ornery individual, who did not suffer fools very well, whether Senate colleagues or constituents, and became a major critic of the mindless Tea Party Movement in the Republican Party after the election of President Barack Obama.

Specter lost his seat in the Senate after 30 years, when he backed President Obama on health care, and switched back to the Democratic Party, giving them, for a brief period, a 60 member filibuster proof majority in the US Senate.

Specter was seen as a man of principle, but also an opportunist, who gained many enemies all over the political spectrum.

Specter was a key figure in the Warren Commission investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy, being on the staff of the commission, and promoting the viewpoint of a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, which became the official viewpoint of the Warren Commission, a viewpoint he never backed away from, despite the many conspiracy theories.

Specter may have been a “loner” in many ways, but in the thirty years he was in the US Senate, he gained a lot of respect and stature as one of its giant figures, who could not be ignored, overlooked, or mistreated, as he would always fight back, including his two courageous battles with cancer in his last decade.

Arlen Specter is a person who historians will have to wrestle with to understand American politics and history in the 1980s, 1990s, and the early 21st century! His effect on so many areas and issues will be a goldmine for scholars in the future, trying to decipher the controversies and issues going back even to the 1960s!

May Arlen Specter rest in peace, knowing he had a great impact on his nation that will not be forgotten!

Senator Arlen Specter’s Farewell Speech: Condemnation Of Chief Justice John Roberts And Associate Justice Samuel Alito On Judicial Activism, And Of Right Wing Republicans! :(

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!