Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania moderate who won his hard-fought primary race against conservative Patrick Toomey with the aid of President Bush and the White House, quickly made news after winning reelection by cautioning the President against nominating pro-life Supreme Court justices. Specter backed away from those sentiments yesterday amid signs of a backlash from Senate conservatives. ABC World News Tonight reported Specter "suggested a Supreme Court nominee who would overturn the right to abortion will not be confirmed." ABC quoted Specter, who said, "When you talk about judges who would change the right of the women to choose, to overturn Roe v. Wade, I think that is unlikely. I have said bluntly during the course of the campaign, that Roe v. Wade was inviolate." ABC adds Specter's "comments touched off a firestorm among conservatives, who wasted no time warning him that his chairmanship may now be in jeopardy. Today, Specter backed down, insisting, 'I have supported every one of President Bush's nominees. . .I have never and would never apply any litmus test on the abortion issue.'" The AP reported, "Earlier on Thursday, a conservative group called the Concerned Women for America declared that Specter's reported comments on abortion had 'disqualified' him for consideration for chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which votes on judicial nominees."
Experts Say Bush Will Choose Judicial Nominees To Please Conservatives. Reuters reports President Bush "would seek in his appointments to please his conservative supporters who oppose abortion and gay rights and support religion in public life, legal experts predicted." If ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist leaves, "the legal experts said Bush could make history by naming the first woman as chief justice, elevating" Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, "and then picking a conservative Hispanic American to fill her seat. Possible choices include US appeals court judge Emilio Garza of Texas, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and Washington attorney Miguel Estrada, who Bush nominated as a federal appeals court judge, but who withdrew after Democrats blocked him." Other possible Bush choices "could include federal appeals court judges Michael Luttig and J. Harvie Wilkinson of Virginia, Samuel Alito of New Jersey, Edith Jones of Texas and John Roberts in Washington."