Specter issues parting blow to Roberts, Alito
December 21st, 2010
12:35 PM ET
12 years ago

Specter issues parting blow to Roberts, Alito

(CNN) - Sen. Arlen Specter, the outgoing Pennsylvania Republican-turned-Democrat, directed a parting blow Tuesday to members of the Supreme Court's conservative bloc.

In his final speech on the Senate floor, Specter, the former GOP chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, chastised Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito for "eroding the constitutional mandate of separation of powers."

"The Supreme Court has been eating Congress' lunch by invalidating legislation with judicial activism after nominees commit under oath in confirmation proceedings to respect congressional fact finding and precedents," said Specter, who voted in favor of both Roberts and Alito when the Bush appointees came before his panel.

Specter specifically took issue with the court's controversial 5-4 decision early this year, in which it relaxed federally-imposed campaign finance regulations for corporations and unions.

"Ignoring a massive congressional record and reversing recent decisions, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito repudiated their confirmation testimony given under oath and provided the key votes to permit corporations and unions to secretly pay for political advertising - thus effectively undermining the basic Democratic principle of the power of one person, one vote," said Specter. Chief Justice Roberts promised to just call balls and strikes and then he moved the bases."

The divided decision last January in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission eased long-standing restrictions on "independent spending" by corporations and unions, and radically altered the election calculus ahead of the midterm elections.

Specter, who left the Republican Party in 2009 in hopes of avoiding a difficult primary challenge, lost the Democratic primary earilier this year.

- CNN's Bill Mears and Virginia Nicolaides contributed to this report

Filed under: Arlen Specter
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. NVa Native

    Too little too late. For many years the Repubs accuse everyone of doing what they are doing. If the accuse someone of lying then you know they are lying.
    Repubs love to falsely accuse someone of being a socialist – it gives them cover while they promote their ideology of fascism – look up the "fourteen elements of fascism".
    You will see the Republican platform outlined step by step.

    December 21, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. Jay

    Isn't the "Supreme" Court supposed to do what's good and right? With rulings on issues like eminent domain and especially Citizens United the average individual's rights are clearly eroding. The court being 5-4 is nothing more than a Republican safety net. Anybody remember how that imbecile won the 1st term?

    Republicans and going to cause this country to become a plundering arena for corporations. The average citizen's quality of life is fast eroding. Sad, sad, sad. If only intelligence had been ubiquitous, these fools would be relegated quickly to the obsolete minority.

    December 21, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  3. jillib

    Well done Mr. Specter.

    Our supreme court can hardly be considered a "respected institution" these days. It's nothing but another appendage of the same old corporatism and politicism that is hastening the decline of this country.

    December 21, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. SDJ

    "...effectively undermining the basic Democratic principle..."

    Actually, CNN, it's the basic "democratic principle" not the basic "Democratic principle." And we wonder how the media is complicit in the polarization of America?

    December 21, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Way to stick it to them Arlen. Someone besides for the President needs to call out this activist SCOTUS. With the possibility of the healthcare law going before the SCOTUS, the activists judges WILL try to repeal it.

    December 21, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. John in Sacramento

    Alito should be "shamed" out of the Supreme Court. The Citizen's United ruling was the worst SC decision in history.

    December 21, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. Jeff

    What a whiner, he need to move to Wisconsin to get some cheese to go with it. You're right Benedict Spector, freedom of speech is secondary to the potential threat of an aristocractic ruling party. Of course here in Nevada its Harry Reid that got all the secret campagin money so I guess the world didn't come to an end, the sun did rise. Democrats will benefit as much (more so in Reid's case) by that ruling as Republicans.

    Oh and the Virginia judge got it right, not buying something is not inter-state commerce. And no it isn't like auto insurance, my kids don't need or have auto insurance, neither does my grand parents, whom no longer own or drive a car.

    December 21, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  8. rob

    Sen Specter picks a strange time to pick this fight. He turned out to have no principles when it came to saving his hide last year by switching Parties and lost anyway.

    He got what he deserved.and now its time for him to fade away with dignity.

    December 21, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  9. Tim

    The supreme court ruled 7-2 in favor of Bush. Learn your facts before you spout out and make a fool of yourself.

    Also, Bush won every single count of the votes. The original count, the farsical recount, and all of the farsical media recounts after the original farsical recount was cancelled by the supreme court. Get over it. And thank God there is no such thing as President Gore.

    December 21, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. reason


    What part of Judge Hudson's decision is wrong? How is he misinterpreting the law? His decision is only 42 pages long, and is written in relatively plain language.

    Can you back up your claims with a specific explanation?

    December 21, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  11. B

    As we can clearly see now that there is nothing that can’t be Bought, even the Supreme Court ..
    This country has some very serious problems ahead and one of the main reasons that Americans have become jaded,and cynical about so much in Government.
    Voter vigilance and involvement is the only solution and that seems to be on the decline as well.

    December 21, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  12. Felicia

    The Republicans don't want "legislation from the bench [courts]" but that's exactly what they want and get from Alito and Roberts. Hypocrites one and all.

    December 21, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. jenn, philadelphia

    This rant just makes him look like the sad, pathetic, old man who can't believe he wasn't reelected that he is. Good riddance.

    December 21, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. Edward Nashville, TN

    The sad reality is it does not matter if the appointees are left or right leaning they are selected because they are activists over moderate and thoughtful judges.

    December 21, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. Edward Nashville, TN

    one more thing precedence is not a good reason to keep injustice alive. There was precedence for racial segregation at one time. Arlene Specter is a bitter old man only concerned about power and no he has lost it.

    December 21, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  16. Rev Mike

    To see The USA's future one just needs to study old Rome! The sound of the fall of Rome was not noise hobnail boots kicking in the gate! It was the sound of silken slippers going down the steps to open the gate! Our leaders are putting on their slippers!

    December 21, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. barry

    bye bye arlen!!

    December 21, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. kevin

    Alito and Roberts represent the worst of this country. They are both a disgrace.

    December 21, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. Max Lowe

    Sen Specter was truly a man of principle and refused to goose step to the party line. He THOUGHT FOR HIMSELF. You can't do that now adays in the GOP. . Arlen, Thank you for being true and pragmatic and not letting ideological idiots think for you.. The rest of you republicans should grow a spine..

    December 21, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  20. rkt

    Specter calling ANYONE else out is laughable. I think he's just bitter because switching parties didn't "allow him to get re-elected." Sleaze at its best.

    December 21, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  21. biggeorge22

    This Supreme Court is WAY too conservative and is setting us back 20 years. Love or hate the Democrats at least they get stuff done even with 87 filibusters, 87! That's history, Mitch McConnell should be removed. They are the obstruction in Washington and here's why:

    START Treaty, Health Care, Financial Reform, Education Reform, Credit Card regulation, Saved us from the worst recession in history, etc... Need I go on? What did the Republican's do in 8 years with GWB? Where's their list? Any body?

    December 21, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
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