July 17, 2005

"Justice Scalia would answer hardly anything... He gave his name and rank and not even his serial number."

That was Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Specter's nonwitticism in response to Brit Hume (on Fox News Sunday), who was pressuring him about what would happen if the new Supreme Court nominee followed the pattern of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and declined to answer many questions on substantive issues. Hume's question was clear, and Specter wouldn't answer it directly. Specter kept saying that he accepted a nominee's not answering questions about how a specific case should be decided, but Hume's question was about rejecting a much broader category of questions, the way Justice Ginsburg did.

I think Specter said whatever he could think of to run out the time until Hume gave up on trying to nail down a point. Hume wanted Specter to commit in advance to the proposition that a nominee's being only as uncommunicative as Ginsburg cannot justify a filibuster or even a "no" vote.

But why bring up Scalia (and exaggerate his evasiveness)? It seems like something a Democrat would do. It makes me wonder which side Specter is on. Later in the interview, Specter made it clear that he supported "judicial restraint" -- but only when it comes to judging the work of Congress. This might make some viewers and seemed to make Brit Hume think he was expressing favor for conservative judges. But it seemed rather clear to me that he was rejecting the sort of judge that enforces federalism-based limits on Congress's power. In which case, he was revealing that he would like to see more justices like Ginburg (and Breyer).

6 comments:

mcg said...

You're only now wondering what side Specter is on? Where were you when he was campaigning for his committee chairmanship? :)

vnjagvet said...

The senators from Pennsylvania illustrate polar ends of the Republican Party. Big tent for the elephant, isn't it?

AJ Lynch said...

Anne:
As a lifelong Philly guy and admittedly not a fan of Specter, here is my two cents.

Arlen Specter has never stood for anything but getting re-elected. He has been straddling fences and issues for so long, I suspect he is a closet hermaphrodite.

He is a prime example of a pol who spent 30-40 years on our payroll and has nothing to show for it but being the originator of the often-mocked single bullet theory in the JFK assassination.

Specter fancies himself an original thinker- but he's whacky ergo the suggestion to bring O'Connor out of retirement.
Sorry for the length of this post but you got me started on this topic.

Wade_Garrett said...

The suggestions re: O'Connor was pretty bizarre, especially because O'Connor had already announced and Rhenquist hadn't announced that he intended to leave. If Rhenquist had announced his retirement and O'Connor was considering hers, then I could see attempting to persuade O'Connor to stay, and become chief justice. But, as it happened, it stuck me as pretty tone-deaf on all fronts.

Adam said...

Let me refine AJ's point: Arlen Specter has never stood for anything other than amassing and displaying his own power. He creates his own spotlight and never lets you forget it's on him.

XWL said...

I know this is evil, snarky, off topic and just plain wrong. . . .

But, while watching Uncle Specter on FNC I kept expecting him to stick a light bulb in his mouth and cause it to light up.

Am I going to hell?