Arlen Specter

Politician; Former United States Senator From Pennsylvania
Born Feb 12, 1930

Arlen J. Specter was a United States Senator from Pennsylvania. Specter was a Democrat from 1951 to 1965, then a Republican from 1965 until 2009, when he switched back to the Democratic Party. First elected in 1980, he represented his state for 30 years in the Senate. Specter was a moderate who staked out a spot in the political center. Specter was born in Wichita, Kansas, to emigrant Russian Jewish parents.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Arlen Specter.


1930 Birth Born on February 12, 1930.


1947 17 Years Old The family lived at 940 South Emporia Street in Wichita before moving to Russell, Kansas, where he graduated from Russell High School in 1947. … Read More


1951 21 Years Old 1 More Event
He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, majored in international relations, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1951. … Read More
1953 23 Years Old In 1953, he married Joan Levy. In 1979, she was elected to one of the two allotted minority party at-large seats on the Philadelphia City Council. … Read More
1956 26 Years Old Specter graduated from Yale Law School in 1956, while serving as editor of the Yale Law Journal. … Read More


1965 35 Years Old 1 More Event
…  In 1965, Specter was elected District Attorney of Philadelphia, a position that he would hold until 1973. … Read More
1967 37 Years Old In 1967, he was the Republican Party standard bearer, together with City Controller candidate, Tom Gola, in the Philadelphia mayoral campaign against the Democratic incumbent James Tate.


1973 43 Years Old Two of their slogans were, "We need THESE guys to watch THOSE guys" and "They're younger, they're tougher, and nobody owns them!" He served two four-year 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.
1976 46 Years Old In 1976, Specter ran in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate and was defeated by John Heinz.
1978 48 Years Old In 1978, he was defeated in the primary for Governor of Pennsylvania by Dick Thornburgh.
1979 49 Years Old The United States House Select Committee on Assassinations published their report in 1979 stating that their "forensic pathology panel's conclusions were consistent with the so-called single bullet theory advanced by the Warren Commission."


1980 50 Years Old 1 More Event
…  First elected in 1980, he represented his state in the Senate for 30 years.
1981 51 Years Old He assumed office in January 1981.
1986 56 Years Old …  He was later reelected in 1986, 1992, 1998, and 2004, despite 1992 and 1998 being bad years for Republicans. … Read More
1988 58 Years Old In 1988, he co-sponsored an amendment to the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which prohibited discrimination in the rental, sale, marketing, and financing of the nation's housing. … Read More


1995 - 2003 6 More Events
2004 74 Years Old 1 More Event
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. … Read More
2005 75 Years Old He officially assumed that position when the 109th Congress convened on January 4, 2005. … Read More
In 2006, he was selected by Time as one of America's Ten Best Senators. … Read More
During the 2007–2008 National Football League season, Specter wrote to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell concerning the destruction of New England Patriots “Spygate” tapes, wondering if there was a link between the tapes and their Super Bowl victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. … Read More
2008 78 Years Old 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 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 and was unanimously supported by the Democratic senators. … Read More
2010 80 Years Old 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. … Read More
On February 16, 2011, Specter wrote a letter to President Obama. … Read More
In May 2012, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medical College presented Specter with the annual Public Service Award for his work in expanding mental health care.
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