July 15th, 2009
04:23 PM ET
12 years ago

Specter takes part in Sotomayor hearing from other side of table

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Forgive Arlen Specter if he felt a little confused Wednesday.

The former Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee took his turn questioning Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as one of the lowest-ranking Democrats - ahead of only the chamber's newest member, Al Franken of Minnesota.

Specter, who has represented Pennsylvania since 1980, switched parties in April and therefore lost the committee seniority accrued in almost three decades as a Republican.

That didn't stop him from raising favorite judicial issues with Sotomayor, including his long-standing push for televising sessions of the nation's highest court.

Noting that both House and Senate proceedings are televised and the "tremendous interest" in Sotomayor's nominating process, Specter said it is time to also broaden access to Supreme Court proceedings.

"Wouldn't it be more appropriate in a democracy to let the people take a look inside?" he asked.

Sotomayor replied that she participated in some televised court proceedings and that, if confirmed, would relay her "positive experiences" to her Supreme Court colleagues.

At a 2007 Senate hearing, Justice Anthony Kennedy urged Specter to drop the issue.

"Please, senator, don't introduce into the dynamic that I have with my colleagues the insidious temptation to think one of my colleagues is trying to get a sound bite for television," Kennedy said at the time. "We don't want that. Please don't introduce this into our inter-collegial deliberations."

On Wednesday, Specter demonstrated the skill of a committee chairman to control the pace, repeatedly cutting off Sotomayor's responses as not answering his questions.

Later, in praising Sotomayor's record as a judge, Specter said: "I'm not commenting about your answers, but your record is exemplary."

"You'll be judged on your record more than your answers," he said.

Filed under: Arlen Specter • Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. gt

    to old .. no new ideas,,, in it for himself ,,,, just retire...

    July 15, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. Specter is now......

    one of the lowest ranking Democrats......it's fitting since he is one of the lowest ranking human beings having knifed his Republican friends in the back.....

    Specter will continue to suffer until he learns the lesson that what goes around comes around....

    July 15, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. Enough

    Wake up Democrats this guy is a hypocrite. You want him, you can have him. Democrats will take any loser, just look at what they elect!!

    July 15, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  4. Jefe

    In the previous Sotomayor article, a poster named Wyatt referred to a "non birth certificate having president". Does anyone know who he is referring to? I've checked all of my sources, and it appears that every living current or former president has one. I thought maybe he was referring to one of the Bushes, seeing as they are clearly loyal to a group or nation outside of the United States, but even they appear to have been citizens.

    I bet people who believe Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States are the same people who believe Microsoft will send them $13,874.25 if they forward an email on to 12 friends.

    July 15, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  5. dubjuce

    remember you are not living in a dictatorship or a one party state, every one has the freedom to choose a political party. The reagon democrats did and were praised for doing so. leave spector alone, he can change sides as often as he wants. we just want to change the status quo

    July 15, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  6. Alex Bosserman, Mission Viejo CA

    Good lord, Specter's "one of the lowest ranking human beings" for not kowtowing to partisan special interests? It takes an awfully distorted values system to prioritize party affiliation above general business in the Senate, let alone value as a human being. I'm sure this kind of mentality will serve the Republicans well if they insist on shrinking down to a political echo chamber.

    July 15, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. Roger

    Its sad how the republican party left Senator Specter a great American & one of the wisest to ever serve in the senate in .

    July 15, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  8. Keith in Austin

    Spector has blown his credibility and political future with America.

    July 15, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  9. skyhawkdriver

    Same old political cronie..just a different side of the aisle..old men and women..old ideas..same bloated government..throw all the bums out..cut the federal budget by 75 percent..then talk to me about change

    July 15, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |

    Ole flip flop himself. He speak with forked tongue.

    July 15, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  11. Steve (the real one)

    Just to change the subject a little, We read earlier this week and last week how the liberals chanted "Quitter" concerning Palin. Remember libs?? Fair enough! Due to your lack of honesty, not one of you mentioned anything about Rattner the "Car Czar quitter". What happened ?? Is it because he wasn't elected? I am sure even you know cazrs are not elected! Rattner quit on the President AND the people of the United States! The question is why is Cuomo looking to settle??? Why the silence liberals?????? One of your boys is a quitter and you haven't said squat! Can't wait to read your excuses, I mean reasons!

    July 15, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  12. Scott

    See, Specter's a rep. at heart. No way should the supreme court be televised, it would ruin it and turn it into a circus.

    July 15, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |

    Specter is still a republican in his ways and voting. he only changed to a democrat so he could get elected again as a democrat. if he gets re elected he will return to the republican party. he has done this before.

    July 15, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  14. Me in Big D

    @Jefe – and you know this for a fact?

    July 15, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |

    To steve the real one. the so called car czar was an appointed position. Palin was the governer elect of alaska. if you can not tell the difference. you need to go back to kindergarden and freshen up you memory.

    July 15, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  16. TRUTH

    Spector made a wise choice leaving the dying gop since bush/cheney started the gop destruction Go Dems

    July 15, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  17. RR

    Has anyone noticed when Sotomayor is asked about a legal subject, she always talks about what the courts have decided and what precedent is. She NEVER says "The CONSITITUTION says..."

    Does she think what judges say about the constitution is more important that what the constitution says?

    July 15, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. southerncousin

    It would be so nice if him and Teddy Kennedy were both under the table. Kennedy has spent most of his life there either to drunk to get up or looking up someones skirt.

    July 15, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. Tulsa

    Steve (the real one) July 15th, 2009 5:24 pm ET

    Uh, let's see..... did he take an OATH of OFFICE? Was he ELECTED to carry out the DUTIES of the office?
    She did and was and she quit before fuylfilling her OBLIGATION to the citizens of the State.

    July 15, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  20. Marc

    Jefe – Unfortunately those guys are everywhere. There's even one guy out in California using this dead but not buried subject as an excuse to don't fight in Afghanistan... Lame excuse for cowardice...

    July 15, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  21. David, Los Angeles, CA

    I'd like greater access to Supreme Court cases and to see how the process works as well as how cases are argued. Seems like an excellent concept.

    Okay, now everyone go back to spitting on Specter for completely unrelated reasons...

    July 15, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  22. carlos

    someone tell those two SOUTHERN senators that:

    decorum, everyone else has their jackets on, KYL of arizona, well, he is a southerner

    courtsey, when you speak to a Supreme Court nominee and a woman at that, you get up from your seat, graham os south carolina, once again, a southerner, and they really know how to treat their women.......shameful to say the least

    July 15, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |