(1930 - 2012)
Arlen Specter, born February 12, 1930 in Wichita, Kansas,
wais the senior U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.
He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980 and served five terms.
Specter graduated from University of Pennsylvania in
1951 and served in the United States Air Force from 1951 to 1953. He
graduated from Yale University Law School in 1956 and was admitted to
the Pennsylvania bar in 1956 where he commenced practice in Philadelphia.
From 1959 to 1964 he served as assistant distric attorney of Philadelphia
and from 1966 to 1974 as district attorney of Philadelphia. In 1964
he was assistant counsel on the President's Commission on the Assasination
of President Kennedy (Warren
Commission). He was admitted to the New
Jersey bar in 1979 and to the District
of Columbia bar in 1983.
Specter was first elected as a Republican to the United
States Senate in 1980 and then reelected in 1986, 1992, 1998 and 2004.
He changed party affiliation on April 30, 2009, becoming a Democrat.
He has served on the Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee
on Veterans Affairs, and the Committee on the Judiciary.
Since 1981, he played a significant role in Supreme
Court nomination hearings, for Chief Justice Rehnquist, Justices O’Conner,
Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas, Ginsberg, Breyer and Judge Bork.
Notwithstanding debilitating chemotherapy treatments in 2005, he stayed
on the job as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee to preside over historic
Supreme Court confirmation hearings. His work on the Judiciary Committee
included writing significant legislation about Constitutional law, civil
rights and privacy.
On the Appropriations Committee, Specter fought to
increase funding for the National Institutes of Health from $12 to $30
billion to expand medical research to find cures for cancer, heart disease,
Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other maladies. He supported
expanding health care for seniors and children and has proposed legislation
to cover the almost fifty million Americans who do not have health insurance.
On the Appropriations Subcommittee, he advocated to increase federal
spending by 138% and raise funding for scholarships and student loans.
As Chairman of the Intelligence Committee in the 104th
Congress and a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign
Operations, Senator Specter traveled extensively meeting with world
leaders including Soviet President
Mikhail Gorbachev; French President Francois Mitterrand; Israel’s Prime Ministers Menachem
Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon
Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Ariel
Sharon and Ehud Olmert; China’s President Hu
Jintao; Indian Prime Minister
Singh; Pakistan’s Prime
Ministers Benazir Bhutto, Mohammad Zia and Pervez Musharraf; Jordan’s Kings Hussein and Abdullah;
and Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak. Strongly agreeing with Moishe
Dayan’s famous statement that we make peace with our enemies
not our friends, he has met with Syria’s Presidents Hafez
al-Assad and Bashar al-Assad;
the Palestinian Authority’s Chairman Yassar Arafat;
Iraq's President Saddam Hussein; Cuba’s President Fidel Castro;
Libya’s Leader Muammar
Gaddafi; and Venezuela President Hugo Chavez.
From these meetings and his studies of foreign affairs
since his undergraduate days at the University of Pennsylvania where
he majored in Political Science and International Relations, Senator
Specter was a forceful advocate for aggressive diplomacy to solve international
conflicts. He wrote, with staffer Chris Bradish, an article for the Washington Quarterly (Winter 2006-2007), outlining a blueprint
for diplomatic initiatives in the Mideast with emphasis on bilateral negotiations with Iran and Syria. Similarly, he
has urged bilateral, as well as multi-lateral, negotiations with North
Early in his Senate career in 1982, he was among the
first to call for a US/USSR summit in a Resolution which passed the
Senate 90 to 8. He participated extensively with the Senate observers
at the Geneva Arms Reduction talks in the 1980's and led the fight for
the broad interpretation of the ABM Treaty. Senator Specter consistently
supported appropriations to fight global aids and promoted worldwide
support for underdeveloped countries including free trade agreements.
Specter was treated for Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2005
and 2008 and ultimately succumbed to the disease on October 14, 2012.
Senator Specter is survived by his wife, Joan, their
two sons, Shanin and Steve, and three grandchildren.
Directory of the United States Congress; U.S.
Senator Arlen Spector