Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.
As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republican Sen.
Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania will preside over the confirmation
hearings of President Bush's nominee John Roberts.
who was elected to the Senate in 1980, is also a senior member
of the Appropriations and Veterans Affairs committees.
Born in Wichita, Kan. in 1930, Specter attended school in Russell,
Kan. and moved to Pennsylvania in 1947 as a student at the University
of Pennsylvania. From 1951 to 1953 he served in the U.S. Air Force.
He later attended Yale Law School where he received his law degree
Specter has been described as a tough adversary, who has made
his way through politics bullying opponents rather than winning
"No one will ever use the word 'Specter' and 'beloved' in the same
sentence," G. Terry Madonna, of Franklin and Marshall College's
Center for Politics and Public Affairs, told the NewsHour in 2004.
"No one gets up in the morning and says, 'Gee, I'm having
lunch with Arlen Specter' and look forward to it."
A moderate Republican, Specter supported the war in Iraq, but
has clashed with President Bush over the Patriot Act and over
what he sees as a need to increase federal funding of education
and health care.
His independent streak, which included a notable vote of "Not
Proven" during the impeachment trial of President Clinton,
has often landed him in fights with more conservative members
of his own party. During his race for a historic fifth term as
senator, Specter faced a bruising primary fight that pitted him
against U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey, who ran accusing Specter of being
too liberal for most of Pennsylvania. It took a last-minute push
by President Bush and others for Specter to narrowly win the Republican
nomination. He would later cruise to reelection.
Specter, who is battling Hodgkin's lymphoma, has also urged the
president to lift restrictions on embryonic stem cell research,
perhaps the most personal issue on his political agenda.
"The scientists know more than the people in the White House.
And the scientists tell us they have enormous potential to cure
diseases like the one I'm suffering from," Specter told CBS
A former Pennsylvania assistant attorney general and Philadelphia
district attorney, Specter and his wife reside in Philadelphia.