[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/11/art.getty.arlen.specter.jpg caption="Specter said Obama should pick a female Supreme Court Justice."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Arlen Specter, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee until he defected to the Democratic Party, said he would like to see President Obama choose a woman to replace Supreme Court Justice David Souter.
"I think another female justice would be a good idea," Specter said at a press conference in Philadelphia on Friday. "I think that given the proportion women in our society, 1 out of 9 is underrepresented. But the court could use some diversity along a number of lines."
Specter said he would like to see Obama consider African American, Hispanic and female candidates to provide more diversity on the nation's highest court. He said he is looking for a nominee with a good education, strong professional experience and "a determination to follow the Constitution and to follow statutes enacted by Congress and not to take upon himself or herself to make new laws."
"I have never had a litmus test, Specter said. "I have supported very conservative nominees like Justice Scalia and very liberal nominees like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I think that's the way it ought to be handled."
Specter also addressed the reaction by Republicans to his decision to leave the party, saying that they have been "universally understanding." He has said that he will return campaign contributions to donors upon request, but that he has already made out checks to return money to his Republican colleagues.
Specter said he is "prepared to run against all competition" in the primary and reiterated that "the polls showed how bleak it was, so that was a very major factor" in his decision to run for reelection as a Democrat.