Arlen Specter: American Embarrassment
Politico is reporting that Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) "plans to review the Senate testimony of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito to determine if their reversal of several long-standing opinions conflicts with promises they made to senators to win confirmation."
Following is a note I sent to Senator Specter's office:
Dear Senator Specter,
If news reports are true that you intend to re-examine testimony of Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Alito because you believe they have not been deferential enough to precedent, I strongly encourage you to reconsider.
Precedent, while important, is not sacred, especially when it is a travesty against the rule of law. Would you have considered “re-examining” testimony of the justices who overturned Dred Scott or Plessy v. Ferguson?
Beyond your plan seeming like insufferable busy-body activity for somebody who must have real work to do, it is actually more harmful than that.
The Senate has massively overstepped its intended role in the approval of Supreme Court justices, which you probably know from reading the Federalist Papers. It is not the Senate’s job to approve or disapprove of a nominee because he or she is outside the political mainstream. Choosing the justice, as long as he or she is qualified and not corrupt, is the right of the President…something he (or maybe she, one day soon) is allowed to do because he won the election. The Senate’s attempts to micromanage judicial nominations is not only a bad idea politically, but it is also unconstitutional.
Beyond that, although it’s not likely something you care much about, your actions offer substantial political aid to the Democrats which, at least theoretically, are not your party. The last thing this country needs at this time is Republicans arguing that the best judges appointed in more than a decade are somehow unsatisfactory.
And finally, what could possibly be the point of examining testimony of someone who has life tenure in his job?
Senator Specter, I must say I have found your behavior to leave something to be desired in recent years, but your suggestion that something about Justices Roberts and Alito needs to be reexamined makes me realize that you have become infatuated with your own power as a Senator at the expense of honoring your oath to protect and defend the Constitution…something that Roberts and Alito have done admirably in their first term (although I believe they should have been far less deferential to precedent than they were.)
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