The NJDC wasn’t always a fan of Specter


The National Jewish Democratic Council is welcoming Arlen Specter to their side of the aisle today, but they haven’t always been fans of some of Specter’s votes as a Republican. For instance, there’s this attack from the NJDC on Specter back in 2003, which the Republican Jewish Coalition noted, called "Sen. Specter Fails the ‘Principle’ Test":

Senator Arlen Specter’s behavior in casting the deciding vote to forward to the full Senate the nomination of Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor to a seat on the federal appeals court shows that Specter is willing to let principle take a backseat to partisanship. Where is the courage of his convictions?" asked National Jewish Democratic Council Executive Director Ira N. Forman today in response to Specter’s key vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. "It’s not simply that Bill Pryor holds views that Democrats disagree with; the fact is that Pryor’s views place him entirely outside of the American mainstream. It’s hard to understand how someone with Sen. Specter’s supposedly moderate worldview could think that this extremist judicial appointment would be worthy of consideration by the full Senate."

Forman’s comments came after Sen. Specter (R-PA) last week placed what is widely seen as the deciding vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee to send to the full Senate the nomination of Bill Pryor to a seat on the federal appeals court. According to the New York Times, Pryor "has called Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion-rights ruling, ‘the worst abomination’ of constitutional law in our history. He recently urged the Supreme Court to uphold laws criminalizing gay sex, a position the court soundly rejected last month. He has defended the installation of a massive Ten Commandments monument in Alabama’s main judicial building, which a federal appeals court recently held violated the First Amendment." In the case of Pryor’s support for placing a Ten Commandments monument in a judicial building, Pryor has gone so far as to provoke public sentiment against other court rulings upholding the separation of church and state; according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Pryor told a crowd at a rally in 1997 that "G-d has chosen, through his son Jesus Christ, this time, this place for all Christians – Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox – to save our country and save our courts." Democratic U.S. Representative Joseph Hoeffel (D-PA) – who is likely to compete for Sen. Specter’s Senate seat – had been strongly urging Sen. Specter to reject the Pryor nomination.

Forman noted, "There is no excuse for Pryor’s history of fostering public anger at court rulings upholding the separation of church and state – the very founding principle of our country that grants every American true religious liberty. And Pryor’s heated rhetoric regarding reproductive rights again demonstrates the extremist nature of Pryor’s views.

"Sen. Specter had a chance here to demonstrate some courage, stand up for core principles, and give some teeth to his patina of moderacy. But he chose not to. Pennsylvania’s Jewish community – and true moderates from both sides of the aisle – will not forget Sen. Specter’s support for forwarding to the full Senate Pryor’s nomination to a life-long seat on the federal bench. And they will surely remember Rep. Joe Hoeffel calling Pryor’s views what they are – nothing short of extremist," Forman added.

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