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Specter Remembered for His Influence in Supreme Court Nomination Battles

Posted Oct 15, 2012 6:36 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Former Sen. Arlen Specter. Barbara J.
Johnson
/ Shutterstock.com

Former Sen. Arlen Specter, whose influence played out in in battles over controversial Supreme Court nominees, died Sunday at the age of 82.

The cause was complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. NBC, the Washington Post and the New York Times have obituaries.

Specter, a former member and chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, voted against Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, a stance that raised the ire of conservatives. But he also helped pave the way for Clarence Thomas to win confirmation, angering liberals.

"The Thomas confirmation nearly cost Mr. Specter his Senate seat," the Times says. "Even now, millions of American women remain furious with him for his aggressive questioning of Anita F. Hill, a law professor who had accused Justice Thomas of sexual harassment when they worked together at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission."

Specter was a former prosecutor who gained national prominence as a member of the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy. He was a centrist who switched to the Republican party after entering politics, then back to the Democratic party in 2009. He lost in the primary.

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