Hes been just wonderful to work with, Durbin added. Hes been an active member of our caucus. I mean, there was not much of a learning curve there. Arlen fit right in.
Switching parties cost Specter his ranking position on Judiciary and a chance to be at the forefront when Obama nominated now-Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Specter was sent to the back of the seniority line among committee Democrats, although the Senator said he expects that issue to be revisited.
Specter said he doesnt miss the limelight that came with his former status as a moderate Republican, although he didnt sound overly convincing, hesitating for a moment before finally settling on a simple no when asked.
Specter, a former GOP Judiciary chairman who a few years back helped shepherd Bushs two Supreme Court nominees across a Democratic minefield, insisted he was just as effective during the Sotomayor confirmation hearings as he might have been as a senior member of the minority.
Specters work product and approach to vetting judicial nominees has not changed since he switched parties, said both Republicans and Democrats who serve on Judiciary, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) included.
The seniority issues not over yet. Theres more coming on that, Specter said. But at the time [of the Sotomayor hearings], I spontaneously said, Its not a matter of where you sit, its a matter of what you say. I played a pretty important role when I was sitting way down the line during nomination hearings in years past, and I had a pretty prominent role in Sotomayor even though I was way down the line.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.