Arlen Specter (born February 12, 1930) is a United States Senator from Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Republican Party, and is widely considered to be one of the more moderate Senate Republicans.
Born in Wichita, Kansas, Specter studied at universities before and after serving in the United States Air Force from 1951 to 1953. He passed the Pennsylvania Bar in 1956. He soon became a prominent lawyer in Philadelphia, eventually becoming District Attorney. He worked with the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of John F. Kennedy. As a chief counsel for the commission he authored the controversial "magic bullet theory". In 1980, Specter became the Republican candidate for Senate when Republican incumbent Richard Schweiker announced his retirement. He had previously run for the Senate in 1976, but was defeated by John Heinz in the Republican primary.
Specter won the election and was reelected in 1986, 1992, 1998 and 2004. He was briefly a candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination in the 1996 election, but dropped out early in the race. He 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, when the Republicans lost control of the Senate, becoming chairman again when they regained control in 2003. In 1998 and 1999 Specter criticized his own party for its impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
In 2004, Specter, who is often dubbed a "RINO" (Republican In Name Only) by more conservative critics, faced a challenge in the Republican primary election from right-wing Congressman Pat Toomey. Toomey charged that Specter was too much a liberal and big spender to represent the Republican Party. The match-up was closely watched nationally, being seen as a symbolic clash between the conservative and moderate wings of the Republican Party. With support from fellow Republican Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and President George W. Bush, Specter narrowly won the primary with 52% of the vote. Some considered this primary battle to have damaged his re-election hopes, putting him to the right of his past moderate stances. He faced Democratic Congressman Joe Hoeffel, Betsy Summers of the Libertarian Party, and Constitution Party candidate James Clymer in November 2004's general election. He was re-elected, becoming Pennsylvania's first five-term Senator.
A senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Specter was recommended that committee's chairmanship by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), and the Senate Select Committee on Committees in late 2004. He officially assumed that position when the 109th Congress convened on January 4, 2005, despite objections from some conservative Republicans. The Judiciary Committee is responsible for confirming all federal judicial appointments made by the President, including Supreme Court nominees. He is famous in his role as a member for his campaigning against Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, defense of nominee Clarence Thomas, and participation in a 30 hour talkathon deploring filibusters against judicial confirmation.
Of late, Specter has stepped into the public spotlight as a result of controversial statements about his views of the future of the Supreme Court, specifically in warning President Bush about the implications of nominating Supreme Court justices who are opposed to the Roe v. Wade decision.
His wife, Joan Specter, is a former at-large member of the Philadelphia City Council.
Arlen Specter was the defense lawyer for convicted murderer and former felon Ira Einhorn.
On February 16, 2005, Specter announced that he had been diagnosed with an advanced form of Hodgkin's disease, a type of cancer. Despite the advanced form, Specter's doctor has remained optimistic, saying that the senator has a good chance of a full recovery.
|U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Pennsylvania|