Specter Recommends Obama Tap a Female or Minority Justice

Posted May 3, 2009 at 11:47am

Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who recently defected to the Democratic Party, on Sunday made his preferences known for the next Supreme Court justice, recommending that President Barack Obama tap a female or minority and look outside the appellate courts.“He should be looking for someone with strong academic and professional background,— Specter said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.— “It is my hope that he would pick someone with diversity … I would hope that he would look beyond the circuit courts of appeals, which now populate the Supreme Court, and pick someone with a greater world experience and diversity.—Obama is weighing a replacement for Justice David Souter, who last week announced he would retire from the high court by June. Obama wants to install his first Supreme Court justice by Oct. 1.During the course of his 29-year Senate career as a Republican and as former ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, Specter famously questioned and voted on several Supreme Court nominees. Specter announced earlier this week that he was switching to the Democratic Party to run for re-election in 2010.Specter defended his party switch on “Meet the Press— and CBS’ “Face the Nation.— He defiantly told “Meet the Press— host David Gregory that Democrats offered him no incentives to switch parties and that party leaders had not promised to clear the primary field for him in 2010. “I didn’t ask them to clear the field,— Specter said. “The reality is you can’t tell other people what to do. I’m prepared to run in a contested primary, but I don’t want to run against a stacked deck, like I would have had to against the Republican primary electorate.—Roll Call reported Saturday that former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who later went on to be the first Homeland Security secretary under President George W. Bush, was considering running for the GOP Senate nomination in the Keystone state. Specter had nothing but words of praise for Ridge, who he could potentially face in the general election should the former governor decide to run. Ridge would square off in the GOP primary against former Rep. Pat Toomey (Pa.), a conservative whose strong support among GOP base voters helped drive Specter to bolt to the Democratic ranks.“I think former Gov. Ridge is a very able fellow,— Specter said. “And I have a lot of respect for him.—