Since the election, a debate has been occuring over the presumed chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Commitee by Arlen Specter. The main opposition to Specter has been from The Corner and RedState, which formed a website called Not Specter. Hugh Hewitt fired back with some rationale for allowing Specter the chairmanship. Now, Senator Spector has written in his own defense.
I am committed, in word and deed, to prompt action by the Judiciary Committee. Last April, I introduced Senate Resolution 327, a protocol to establish prompt action on all judicial nominees. Specifically, my protocol provides that all nominees will have a Judiciary Committee hearing within 30 days of nomination, a Judiciary Committee vote within 30 days of the hearing, and a floor vote 30 days later.
I was also among the first to call for a marathon, round-the-clock debate to draw attention to the Democratic obstruction, which we held in November 2003. I made 17 floor statements to protest Democratic filibusters on nominees including Miguel Estrada and Charles Pickering.
Initially, I supported the cause against Specter. I did so because I felt that, after such a hugh victory by the Republican Party, it would be a retreat to put a moderate Republican in charge of the comittee which oversees judicial nominations, one of the chief legislative battlegrounds these days. I reflected on this for a few days and then read Hugh Hewitt’s perceptive post, I referenced above. Immediately I thought of… Zell Miller. Why is it that Zell Miller spoke out so strongly against the Democratic Party this year? Because he felt that it had no room for voices like his. If conservatives are successful in blocking Specter’s chairmanship, then it will signal the inacceptance of non-conservative thought within the Republian party. And that is something I don’t think is good for the party, and definately not good for the country.
UPDATE: Captain Ed has some thoughts on what it means to be a majority party.