Arlen Specter
American politician; former United States Senator from Pennsylvania
Arlen Specter
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.
Biography
Arlen Specter's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Arlen Specter from around the web
Joe Biden Is A Hero Among Women's Rights Groups. But It Wasn't Always That Way.
Huffington Post - about 2 months
WASHINGTON ― Joe Biden will leave a legacy of staunch advocacy for women’s rights when he steps down as vice president in a week. He was a leader in passing and renewing the 1994 Violence Against Women Act and has been the chief advocate of the Obama administration’s national campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses. Those achievements, among others, were no small reason he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Thursday, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Biden touted his role in elevating the seriousness and pervasiveness of sexual harassment in a September 2015 speech, noting that his work dated as far back as 1991: “During the Clarence Thomas hearings, one of the things that emerged was the issue of sexual harassment. ... It was the thing that no one wanted to touch. I remember saying to my colleagues, ‘This is so much bigger than a single judge.’” Advocates say Biden is now one of their strongest champions on issues of violence against women. But t ...
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Huffington Post article
How Women Became A Powerful Political Force In The Democratic Party
Huffington Post - 7 months
PHILADELPHIA ― This is the night that Ellen Malcolm has been waiting for almost her whole life.  Malcolm, now 69, and a few friends got together in 1985 to figure out how to get more women into office. They saw a chance to harness the collective power of women, who weren’t big campaign contributors. The plan was to get money to female candidates early in their campaigns ― a way of convincing the old boys’ network that they could be viable and deserving of establishment support. Today, EMILY’s List ― now run by Stephanie Schriock ― has more than 3 million members and has raised more than $26 million from over 81,000 people, making it one of the most successful political action committees. Since its founding, it’s elected 110 women to the House, 19 to the Senate, 11 to gubernatorial seats and more than 700 to state and local positions. And on Thursday night, Hillary Clinton will take the stage and accept the Democratic nomination for president, making her the first woman in U. ...
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Huffington Post article
Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma; a Bipartisan Affliction
Huffington Post - about 1 year
We have all heard the word lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system. In this time of national political debate, it is worth noting that this serious cancer has taken national leaders' lives on both sides of the aisle, both Democrats and Republicans. This should be a reason for bipartisan support of increased funding of the budget of the National Cancer Institute. Two of our national leaders have succumbed to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). On the Democratic side, Senator Arlen Specter died of progressive NHL after 7 years battling the illness (and brain tumor and Hodgkin's disease) and serving in the Senate after his chemotherapy twice. On the Republican side, Senator Fred Thompson developed NHL in 2004. Treatment produced a complete remission, during which time he was a candidate for the presidency in 2008. He succumbed to recurrent NHL on November 1, 2015 after his long control of the disease. Also, Republican Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland has recently received chemotherapy an ...
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Huffington Post article
Bruce Graham's 'Rizzo': Remembrances and Relevance
Huffington Post - over 1 year
Philadelphia's Theatre Exile's entertaining production of Bruce Graham's commissioned play, Rizzo, has opened to largely positive reviews that I found well deserved. (Full disclosure: My daughter-in-law, Deborah Block, is Producing Artistic Director of this small, gutsy theatre.) Exile's founder, Joe Canuso, directed this work with deep caring and commitment, and the actors bring the script to life with ease and determination. Philadelphians know well that, with a record of about 20 plays, no one captures the essence of those who are the soul and guts of Philly with more understanding and compassion than Bruce Graham. Graham's body of work, a love letter to our phenomenal and phenomenally complex city, is ever an insistence to understand, but never degrade, another human being. However, when I saw the play, after the well-deserved applause left me, I found myself strangely unsettled, and even sad. Thanks to Graham's determination to achieve fairness and balance, the good and the bad ...
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Huffington Post article
Beyond the rule of law; a valuable lesson
The Times of India - over 3 years
Sen. Arlen Specter, the late Senator from Pennsylvania, wrote in his book ‘ Life Among the Cannibals’ that his son Shanin had “an absolute standard – do what you think is right- and (he) never deviated from it. Not ever.” Part-time professor and full-time trial attorney, Professor Shanin Specter attempts to pass on that ‘gold-standard’ of principled advocacy to his students at Penn Law. Every Wednesday evening, Specter lays threadbare the secrets..
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The Times of India article
"Single Bullet: Arlen Specter & the Warren Commission Investigation of the JFK Assassination," the first exhibition of The Arlen Specter Center for Public Policy at Philadelphia University, examines critical events from Nov. 22, 1963
Yahoo News - over 3 years
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Single Bullet: Arlen Specter & the Warren Commission Investigation of the JFK Assassination," the inaugural exhibition of The Arlen Specter Center for Public Policy at Philadelphia University, re-examines critical evidence in an innovative new exhibit that coincides with the 50th anniversary of the assassination."Single Bullet" reflects a tumultuous time in U.S. history that still evokes controversy over the Warren Commission finding that one shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, was responsible for the assassination. ...
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Yahoo News article
Welcome To 'This Town,' Sally Quinn!
Huffington Post - over 3 years
Yesterday, the pointless Howard Kurtz published a pointless item on a Washington, D.C. yoga instructor named Pari Bradlee. There was no reason for him to have done so -- Kurtz is ostensibly a "media critic" and Pari Bradlee has about as much to do with the "media" as I have to do with the Tamil Tigers. As best as I can discern, Kurtz was moved to write about Pari Bradlee because the way she dressed in photos on her Facebook page did not comport to some odd, one-dimensional definition of "ladylike" that rattles, eternally, inside his head, like an acorn inside a tin can. Now, one of the first people to respond and react to Kurtz's shabby treatment of Pari Bradlee, was Bradlee's mother-in-law, Sally Quinn. Quinn, as you know, is a veteran Washington Post thought-haver and the Dowager Countess of Washington's elite social set. (These facts, in fact, probably have much more to do with the existence of Kurtz's dumb article than anything Pari Bradlee has done.) Media Matters c ...
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Huffington Post article
25 Republicans Who Supported Obamacare Before Obama
Mother Jones - over 3 years
Republicans have pulled out all the stops to kill Obamacare, the president's landmark health care law that requires every American to purchase health insurance by 2014. There have been lawsuits; there have been bills (40 in the House so far); there has been a Supreme Court case—all aimed at rolling back a law that that the GOP says is an assault on individual liberty. Now, with only a few more months to go until the individual mandate—the requirement that we all have coverage—kicks in, Republicans are frantic; some are even threatening to force the United States to default on its debts if Democrats don't agree to delay the law. This is odd because the individual mandate, the cornerstone of Obamacare, was originally a conservative idea. It was first proposed by the Heritage Foundation in 1989. And scores of Republicans—not just Mitt Romney—have backed the idea in the past couple of decades. Here are some of the GOPers who supported Obamacare before Obama: 1. Rick Santorum? The A ...
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Mother Jones article
James Kearney: Ending Nuclear Testing: Waiting for the US Senate to Take the Lead
Huffington Post - over 3 years
The United States is at its best when it is leading by example. When it became the first country to sign the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty in 1996, ratification by the US Senate was not taken for granted, but was certainly hoped for. Alas, that was not to be, as in 1999 the Senate voted 51-48 against the treaty with only four Republican Senators voting in favour (Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Jim Jeffords of Vermont, Gordon Smith of Oregon and Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island). President Obama's declared commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, in Prague in 2009, and his administration's work on securing the new START treaty, once more raised expectations that the President would use his second term to persuade the Senate to move where it failed to go in 1999 and gain the required 67 votes to ratify the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), a treaty that makes it very difficult for countries to develop nuclear bombs for the first time, or for countries that already have the ...
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Huffington Post article
Mark Hetfield: Senator Lautenberg: An Appreciation of His Lifesaving Work With Refugees
Huffington Post - over 3 years
In 1989, I traveled from New Jersey to Rome, the city in Europe where the United States government processed those fleeing the Soviet Union as refugees, a status that would allow them to come to the U.S., where they would make new lives in freedom. Hired by HIAS as a caseworker, I was sent to help the thousands of Soviet Jews in Italy who unpredictably had been denied refugee status by the U.S. Embassy. These people were accustomed to refusal. All were either "refuseniks," who had faced years of the Soviet government refusing to allow them to exercise their right to emigrate, or people who had delayed their applications to emigrate due to complete certainty that their applications would be denied, and they would be viewed by their workplace or school as traitors. When Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev loosened immigration restrictions, Soviet Jews started leaving by the thousands. Most hoped to go to a country like the U.S. or Israel, to join family members they had not s ...
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Huffington Post article
Pablo Eisenberg: Robert Edgar: A Forceful Nonprofit Protector of Values and Ethics
Huffington Post - almost 4 years
When Robert Edgar, president of Common Cause, died suddenly Tuesday morning at age 69, America lost one of its most important nonprofit leaders. An unassuming but forceful figure in the fight for greater public accountability in politics, government, and civil society, he helped Common Cause vault into the top tier of watchdog groups in the nation. From the time he took over the group in 2007, he led the organization's drive to promote ethics in government and push for an overhaul of the campaign and election finance system and the Congressional redistricting system. A Methodist minister with a divinity degree from Drew University, he brought to his career as a member of Congress and a nonprofit executive the values and ethics he had absorbed during the course of his education. His deep commitment to social justice, democratic procedures, institutional integrity, and the notion of public service defined him both as a person and as a public figure. "There is no greater ca ...
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Huffington Post article
Company Used Fiscal Cliff Deal To Hurt Rival
Huffington Post - about 4 years
WASHINGTON -- The era of crisis budgeting in Washington has opened new opportunities for corporations and special interests. The latest example of a last-minute favor came in the "fiscal cliff" bill signed into law on Jan. 3 to avert across-the-board tax increases and to delay spending cuts known as the sequester. The bill, crafted on deadline, was stuffed with special provisions helping specific companies and industries. Many of these provisions were included to help offset the sequester delay and to extend the "doc fix," a delay of physicians' Medicare payment cuts that Congress has been extending on an ad hoc basis since 2002. One that stands out is a reduction in the Medicare reimbursement rate for a radiosurgery device manufactured by the Swedish company Elekta AB. The cut is noteworthy because it was advocated by Palo Alto, Calif.-based Varian Medical Systems Inc., Elekta's main competitor. The rate cut, according to the first report by The Wall Street Journal, was ...
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Huffington Post article
Local Official Says Goodbye To GOP
Huffington Post - about 4 years
Steve Kozachik, a city councilman in Tucson, Ariz., is switching his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat after sparking controversy with a gun buyback program. Kozachik recently came under fire from the National Rifle Association after he asked police to do a gun buyback on January 8th. "I've been getting phone calls in the office trying to shut this thing down," Kozachik told NPR. Kozachik defended his buyback efforts further by claiming that the program gives gun owners who no longer feel comfortable owning a weapon a chance to "get rid of it in proper manner." In a statement announcing his switch, he called local Republicans "out of touch with this community" on a variety of issues. In response to news of Kozachik's party affiliation change, Arizona State Sen. Frank Antenori (R) called Kozachik an "impostor Republican." Tucson City Councilwoman Regina Romero (D), however, welcomed Kozachik to the Democratic Party. She told the Arizona Daily Star t ...
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Huffington Post article
What do you think of the Des Moines Register Editorial Board Questions of the President – probing or soft? Do they get the information needed to make a good judgment on a newspaper endorsement?
Fox News - over 4 years
Like all newspapers, the Des Moines Register is trying to decide who to endorse for President.  In 2008 the paper endorsed President Obama. By the time of the DMR endorsement, both candidates will have spoken to the DMR editorial board. The questions the board asked President Obama (and his answers) are below. I am curious whether you think these DMR editorial board questions (below) are smart and probing and thus providing for an opportunity for the editorial board to make a reasoned decision.  (This is not whether you agree with the editorial board’s decision — this is about the process.) One thing that I would like to do (if I had the time) is to compare the questioning of the board – did both candidates get the same questions (or almost the same?) Or did one get lighter questions? PS There is an exchange of pleasantries at the outset of the call.  Of course they would be polite and you should expect that from the President and the Editorial Board so don’t be critical of t ...
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Fox News article
Arlen Specter: Snarlin’ no more
The Economist - over 4 years
Whom shall I annoy now? NEITHER Democrats nor Republicans have much love for moderates in their ranks. The reason is simple: in America’s two-party system, moderation tends to mean siding with the other guys. One man’s judicious independent is another’s unreliable traitor.Yet a politician’s ability to defy his own party is, on balance, a valuable trait (for the country, if not the party), and it is one that Arlen Specter often displayed. Mr Specter, who succumbed to lymphoma at the age of 82 on October 14th, represented Pennsylvania in the Senate for five terms—longer than any other Pennsylvania senator. The son of an American mother and a Ukrainian Jewish immigrant father who served in the first world war and sold fruit and scrap in Russell, Kansas (the same town that produced Bob Dole), Mr Specter attended the University of Pennsylvania and Yale Law School before prosecuting municipal corruption as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia.In 1965 he won his fir ...
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The Economist article
On abortion, Arlen Specter mixed principle and politics
Los Angeles Times- Opinion - over 4 years
The death of Arlen Specter inspired a predictably conflicted reaction from supporters of abortion rights: He was the guy who kept Robert Bork off the Supreme Court, perhaps in the process saving Roe vs. Wade --  Specter's favorite "super-duper precedent." But he also was the pitiless inquisitor of Anita Hill and may thus have been instrumental in the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas -- and Thomas is no friend of Roe.  (In 2007, Thomas wrote that "the court's abortion jurisprudence ... has no basis in the Constitution." 
Article Link:
Los Angeles Times- Opinion article
Remembering former Sen. Arlen Specter
Fox News - over 4 years
A look back at ex-lawmaker's career
Article Link:
Fox News article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Arlen Specter
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2012
    Age 82
    He later died of complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma on October 14, 2012.
    More Details Hide Details Specter was born in Wichita, Kansas, the youngest child of Lillie (née Shanin) and Harry Specter, who grew up in the Bachkuryne village of Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine. Specter was Jewish, and wrote in his memoir, Passion for Truth, that his father's family was the only Jewish family in the village.
    On September 7, 2012, he was released from a Philadelphia hospital, but was expected to return there for additional treatment.
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    On August 28, 2012, it was announced that Specter was battling a "serious form of cancer" and hospitalized.
    More Details Hide Details He was diagnosed six weeks earlier with a new form of the disease.
    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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  • 2011
    Age 81
    On December 21, 2011, former Senator Arlen Specter donated to Philadelphia University nearly 2,700 boxes of historical papers and memorabilia dating from his career as a Philadelphia district attorney to his service as a United States senator, including materials associated with his role as assistant counsel on the Warren Commission.
    More Details Hide Details The collection will be jointly managed by the University of Pittsburgh, which will house, organize, and manage the collection. The universities will collaborate on related education programing that will consequently provide access to the archives on both ends of the state. The Specter Collection will also support The Arlen Specter Center for Public Policy at Philadelphia University. The Center will be a nonpartisan initiative dedicated to promoting greater understanding of public policy issues both foreign and domestic. The Center will strive to accomplish these goals through support for research, educational programming, and exhibitions inspired, in part, by the senator's career and the permanent collection of his historic papers. The Center will be managed by the Paul J. Gutman Library at Philadelphia University will be located in Roxboro House, which is located nearby on campus. Parts of Roxboro House date back to 1799. The Georgian period house constructed of frame and clapboard was expanded in 1810. At one point in its history, Roxboro House was owned by Dr. Caspar Wistar who published the first American textbook of anatomy in 1811. Wistar was president of the American Philosophical Society and his friend, Thomas Nuttall, a famous botanist, named the Wisteria vine after him. In 1965 the Philadelphia Historical Commission added this house to its list of registered buildings (No. 141). Prior to the University's purchase of the property in 1998, the house was being used as a bed and breakfast establishment.
    During the fall of 2011, Specter was an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he taught a course on the relationship between Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court, focusing on separation of powers and the confirmation process.
    More Details Hide Details For this course the National Jurist named him as one of the "23 professors to take before you die".
    On February 16, 2011, Specter wrote a letter to President Obama.
    More Details Hide Details He stated that as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jonathan Pollard should be pardoned. He stated, "Unfortunately, spying is not an uncommon practice even between allies and friendly nations." Marking Specter's entire career in the Senate and, indeed, in all his public offices was one overriding fact: First and foremost, he considered himself essentially a trial attorney rather than a professional politician. During his tenures on Senate committees, his approach to their hearings was very similar to courtroom examinations of trial witnesses.
  • 2010
    Age 80
    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.
    More Details Hide Details He said: "This is going to become law. You have a very significant invasion of privacy with these webcams, as more information is coming to light." Speaking on the floor of the Senate, he said:
  • 2009
    Age 79
    The Jewish daily newspaper The Forward reported in the wake of the July 2009 organ trafficking scandal in the U.S. involving Rabbi Levy Izhak Rosenbaum of Brooklyn that an Organ Trafficking Prohibition Act of 2009, sponsored by Specter, had yet to be officially introduced in the U.S.
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    In early 2009, Specter announced he would not be voting for cloture on the same act in the 111th Congress.
    More Details Hide Details After Specter switched parties, he changed his position on the issue again, and wrote a letter to the unions indicating he supported card check legislation. Spurred by the 2010 Robbins v. Lower Merion School District case, in which two high schools admitted to secretly taking 66,000 webcam photos and screenshots of students in their homes on school-issued laptops, Specter held a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs on March 29, 2010. He said: "The issue is one of surreptitious eavesdropping. Unbeknownst to people, their movements and activities were under surveillance." He said that Lower Merion's use of laptop cameras for surveillance convinced him that new federal legislation was needed to regulate electronic privacy.
    On May 3, 2009 Specter went on Meet the Press and was asked "Would you support health care reform that puts up a government run public plan to compete with a private plan issued by a private insurance company?" Specter said no.
    More Details Hide Details Two months later, he changed his position. Specter believed a single-payer healthcare system should not be "taken off the table", according to an interview he had with John King on CNN. On health care reform, Specter was a cosponsor of the Healthy Americans Act, a proposal he supported during both the 110th and 111th Congresses. Specter voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the healthcare bill passed through the Senate by every Democratic senator, on a party-line vote.
    According to fivethirtyeight.com, during January–March 2009 Specter voted with the Democrats 58% of the time.
    More Details Hide Details Following the support of the stimulus package and the entrance of Pat Toomey in the Republican primary, Specter began to vote 16% with Democrats. When switching to become a Democrat, he voted 69% with his new party initially, until Joe Sestak entered the Democratic primary and Specter started to vote 97% of the time. Specter stated that he was "personally opposed to abortion," but was "a supporter of a woman's right to choose." He received a 20% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America in 2005 based on certain votes related to the regulation of abortion; in 2008, he received 100%. Specter supported some LGBT rights. He voted to prohibit job discrimination based on sexual orientation, and was a co-sponsor of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Specter was opposed to same-sex marriage, but was also opposed to a federal ban and supported civil unions. He also became opposed to the Defense of Marriage Act which he once supported. Specter voted in favor of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the lame-duck session of the 111th Congress.
    A March 2009 Quinnipiac poll indicated that Specter trailed his likely primary challenger, Pat Toomey, by 14% (41% for Toomey, 27% for Specter).
    More Details Hide Details Additional polling found that 70% of Pennsylvania Republicans disapproved of his vote in favor of the Stimulus Bill and that 52 percent of Pennsylvania Republicans disapproved of the job he was doing. Following Specter's switching parties, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele criticized his leaving the Republican Party, claiming that Specter had "flipped the bird" at the GOP. On February 6, 2010, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party overwhelmingly endorsed U.S. Senator Arlen Specter at the Democratic State Committee's annual endorsement convention, which was held in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He received more votes than Joe Sestak, winning more than 77% of the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee members vote, far in excess of the 2/3 threshold needed to claim the endorsement. Sestak, however, went on to win the Democratic primary nomination on May 18. Following the primary, Specter endorsed Sestak in the general election. Sestak would go on to lose the general election to Toomey.
    However, on April 28, 2009, Specter stated that "As the Republican Party has moved farther and farther to the right, I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy of the Democratic Party."
    More Details Hide Details He said that he was switching party affiliation and would run as a Democrat in the 2010 election. In the same announcement, Specter also said that he had "surveyed the sentiments of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania and public opinion polls, observed other public opinion polls and have found that the prospects for winning a Republican primary are bleak".
    In November 2009, Specter introduced a bill to require televising U.S. Supreme Court proceedings, and explained that "the Supreme Court makes pronouncements on constitutional and federal law that have direct impacts on the rights of Americans.
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    In October 2009, Specter called for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which he had supported in 1996.
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    In late April 2009, facing a tough Republican primary, Specter switched to the Democratic party giving Democrats a super-majority.
    More Details Hide Details He was then denied seniority on Senate committees by his Democratic colleagues.
    On March 18, 2009, Specter said that he was not considering running as an independent.
    More Details Hide Details He said, "To eliminate any doubt, I am a Republican, and I am running for reelection in 2010 as a Republican on the Republican ticket." Subsequently Specter's 2004 conservative GOP primary challenger, Pat Toomey, announced he would again run for the Republican nomination in the Republican senatorial primary.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details As a result of his support, many in the Republican mainstream began calling for his removal from office. Specter was instrumental in ensuring that the act allocated an additional $10 billion to the National Institutes of Health over the next two years.
  • 2008
    Age 78
    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.
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  • 2007
    Age 77
    In 2007, Specter co-sponsored the Equal Justice for United States Military Personnel Act of 2007 with Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.).
    More Details Hide Details But the bill failed in the 110th Congress, and Specter again co-sponsored the measure in the 2009 111th Congress.
    Starting in 2007, Specter sponsored legislation to fix a long-standing inequity in American law that shut out a majority of U.S. Armed Forces service members from equal access to the U.S. Supreme Court.
    More Details Hide Details
    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.
    More Details Hide Details On February 1, 2008, Goodell stated that the tapes were destroyed because "they confirmed what I already knew about the issue." Specter released a follow-up statement:
  • 2006
    Age 76
    On April 9, 2006, speaking on Fox News about the Bush administration's leaking of classified intelligence, Specter stated: "The President of the United States owes a specific explanation to the American people."
    More Details Hide Details However, he did vote for the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which placed federal electronic searches almost entirely within the executive branch.
    Specter was very critical of Bush's wiretapping of U.S. citizens without warrants. When the story first broke, he called the effort "inappropriate" and "clearly and categorically wrong." He said that he intended to hold hearings into the matter early in 2006, and had Alberto Gonzales appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer for the program. (However, Specter declined to force Gonzales to testify under oath.) On January 15, 2006, Specter mentioned impeachment and criminal prosecution as potential remedies if Bush proved to have broken the law, though he downplayed the likelihood of such an outcome.
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    The Bush administration used the law to place at least eight interim attorneys into office in 2006.
    More Details Hide Details Specter claimed that the changes were added by staff member Brett Tolman. For more information, see dismissal of U.S. Attorneys controversy.
    In 2006, he was selected by Time as one of America's Ten Best Senators.
    More Details Hide Details Specter lost his reelection bid in 2010 to Joe Sestak in the primary election, who then lost to Pat Toomey in the general election. Toomey succeeded Specter on January 3, 2011. Diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in early 2005, he continued his work in the Senate while undergoing chemotherapy.
  • 2005
    Age 75
    He officially assumed that position when the 109th Congress convened on January 4, 2005.
    More Details Hide Details On March 9, 2006, a revision of the USA PATRIOT Act was signed into law. It amended the process for interim appointments of U.S. Attorneys, a clause Specter wrote during his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The change allowed the Bush Administration to appoint interim U.S. attorneys without term limits, and without confirmation by the Senate.
  • 2004
    Age 74
    He met with many conservative Republican senators, and based on assurances he gave them, he was recommended for the Judiciary Committee's chairmanship in late 2004.
    More Details Hide Details
    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.
    More Details Hide Details At a press conference, he stated: Activist groups interpreted his comments as warnings to President George W. Bush about the implications of nominating Supreme Court justices who were opposed to the Roe v. Wade decision. Specter maintained that his comments were a prediction, not a warning.
  • 2003
    Age 73
    In 2003, the Pennsylvania Report, a subscription-based political newsletter, described Specter as one of the "vanishing breed of Republican moderates" and described his political stance as "'Pennsylvania first' middle of-the-road politics" even though he was known as an "avid Republican partisan."
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  • 2002
    Age 72
    In a 2002 PoliticsPA Feature story designating politicians with yearbook superlatives, he was named the "Toughest to Work For."
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    On October 11, 2002, Specter voted in favor of H.J.Res.114 authorizing the Iraq War.
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  • 1998
    Age 68
    In 1998 and 1999, Specter criticized the Republican Party for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
    More Details Hide Details Believing that Clinton had not received a fair trial, Specter cited Scots law to render a verdict of "not proven" on Clinton's impeachment. However, his verdict was recorded as "not guilty" in the Senate records.
  • 1996
    Age 66
    Specter criticized the federal government's policy on cancer, stating the day after Jack Kemp—the 1996 Republican vice presidential nominee and former congressman—died of cancer, that Kemp would still be alive if the federal government had done a better job funding cancer research.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1995
    Age 65
    On March 31, 1995, Specter announced his candidacy for President of the United States, to challenge the incumbent Bill Clinton.
    More Details Hide Details He entered the race as an alternate to the stereotypical religious conservative image. He was critical of Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, and Ralph Reed, saying all three were far too conservative. His campaign focused on balancing the federal budget, strict crime laws, and establishing relations with North Korea. His candidacy was not expected to succeed in winning the Republican nomination due to the overwhelmingly large number of social conservatives in the Republican Party. He was, however, able to gain support. Fellow Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum was supportive of his candidacy. Other supportive Republicans were hopeful Specter could trim the party's "far-right fringe". Although his campaign was ultimately unsuccessful at wooing conservatives, it was widely believed he could have had a strong showing among independents. On November 23, 1995, before the start of the primaries, Specter suspended his campaign to endorse Kansas Senator Bob Dole.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1988
    Age 58
    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.
    More Details Hide Details The amendment strengthened the ability of the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity to enforce the Fair Housing Act and expanded the protected classes to include disabled persons and families with children.
  • 1986
    Age 56
    He was later reelected in 1986, 1992, 1998, and 2004, despite 1992 and 1998 being bad years for Republicans.
    More Details Hide Details Specter ran for reelection in 2010, for the first time as a Democrat, but was defeated in the Primary.
  • 1981
    Age 51
    He assumed office in January 1981.
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  • FORTIES
  • 1980
    Age 50
    After several years in private practice with the Philadelphia law firm Dechert, Price & Rhoads, Specter ran again for the U.S. Senate in 1980.
    More Details Hide Details This time, he won.
    First elected in 1980, he represented his state in the Senate for 30 years.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1979
    Age 49
    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."
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  • 1978
    Age 48
    In 1978, he was defeated in the primary for Governor of Pennsylvania by Dick Thornburgh.
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  • 1976
    Age 46
    In 1976, Specter ran in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate and was defeated by John Heinz.
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  • 1973
    Age 43
    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.
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  • THIRTIES
  • 1967
    Age 37
    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.
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  • 1965
    Age 35
    In 1965, Specter ran for Philadelphia district attorney against his former boss, incumbent James C. Crumlish, Jr. However, the city's Democratic leaders, such as Peter Camiel, did not want Specter as their candidate, so he switched parties and ran as a Republican, prompting Crumlish to call him "Benedict Arlen."
    More Details Hide Details Specter defeated Crumlish by 36,000 votes. Though he was a supporter of capital punishment, as a prosecutor, he questioned the fairness of the Pennsylvania death penalty statute in 1972.
    In 1965, Specter was elected District Attorney of Philadelphia, a position that he would hold until 1973.
    More Details Hide Details During his 30-year senate career, Specter staked out a spot in the political center.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1956
    Age 26
    Specter graduated from Yale Law School in 1956, while serving as editor of the Yale Law Journal.
    More Details Hide Details Afterward, Specter opened a law practice, Specter & Katz, with Marvin Katz, who served as a Federal District Court Judge in Philadelphia, until his death in October 2010. Specter became an assistant district attorney under District Attorney James C. Crumlish, Jr., and was a member of the Democratic Party. Specter worked for Lyndon Johnson's Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy, at the recommendation of Representative Gerald Ford, who was then one of the Commissioners. As an assistant for the commission, he co-wrote the proposal of the "single bullet theory," which suggested the non-fatal wounds to Kennedy and wounds to Texas Governor John Connally were caused by the same bullet. This was a crucial assertion for the Warren Commission, since if the two had been wounded by separate bullets within such a short time frame, that would have demonstrated the presence of a second assassin and therefore a conspiracy.
  • 1953
    Age 23
    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.
    More Details Hide Details She held the seat for four terms, until she was defeated for re-election in 1995 by Frank Rizzo, Jr.. The couple had two sons.
  • 1951
    Age 21
    During the Korean War, he served stateside in the United States Air Force from 1951 to 1953 and obtained the rank of first lieutenant as an officer in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations Corps.
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    He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, majored in international relations, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1951.
    More Details Hide Details While at Penn, Specter was a member of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity. Specter said the family moved to Philadelphia when his sister Shirley was of a marriageable age because there were no other Jews in Russell.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1947
    Age 17
    The family lived at 940 South Emporia Street in Wichita before moving to Russell, Kansas, where he graduated from Russell High School in 1947.
    More Details Hide Details Russell is also the hometown of fellow politician Bob Dole (who graduated from Russell High School in 1941). Specter said that his father weighed items from his junkyard on a scale owned by Dole's father Doran Dole (who owned a granary). He said his brother Morton and Dole's brother Kenny were contemporaries and friends. Specter's father served in the U.S. infantry during World War I, and was badly wounded. During the Great Depression, Specter's father was a fruit peddler, a tailor, and a junkyard owner. After graduating from Russell High School, Arlen Specter studied first at the University of Oklahoma.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1930
    Age 0
    Born on February 12, 1930.
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