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All eyes on Sen. Specter

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Sen. Arlen Specter had better watch out. The day after President Bush's election triumph, Republican Sen. Arlen Specter -- who is expected to be chosen chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- fired a warning shot across the bow of the ship of state: "The president is well aware of what happened, when a bunch of his nominees were sent up, with the filibusters. And I would expect the president to be mindful of the considerations which I am mentioning."

As one of the few Republicans who opposed President Reagan nominee Robert Bork for the Supreme Court, and President George W. Bush's nominee for the federal bench (and now senator) Jeff Sessions, Mr. Specter's words are quite easy to decode. He is warning the president that he will block or oppose conservative nominations, no matter how qualified, for the high benches.

The senior senator from Pennsylvania will not need a magic decoder ring to understand the next sentence. If he tries to block the will of the conservative electorate that just re-elected the president, he should expect a remorseless multimillion dollar campaign by virtually every conservative organization (and their millions of members) to compel his fellow Republican senators to strip him of his impending committee chairmanship.

A more conservative federal judiciary -- and the traditional American values that would be strengthened thereby -- is at the heart of the surge of voters from Florida to Ohio that re-elected President Bush. We have no intention of losing through the back door what we just brought through the front door.

The senator's arrogance is compounded by his ingratitude. It was only earlier this year that his campaign to regain the Republican nomination for Senate was on life support, as he was being opposed by a particularly able younger conservative Republican candidate. His losing effort was saved only by the all-out effort of his conservative junior Sen. Rick Santorum and by a similar effort by a guy named George W. Bush.

Arlen Specter is only in the Senate because he is a member of a team. He will only have the power of Judiciary Committee chairman if he is given it by his teammates. If he stabs his team in the back, he will be taken off the roster.

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