by Damon Boughamer
Public Radio Capitol News, serving Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, Penna. (PRCN, 23 April 2007) – Senator Arlen Specter says he sees, in a recent Supreme Court decision, signs that the court is shifting toward a more strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
The ruling was a 5-4 decision by the high court that upheld a ban on so-called "partial birth" or "late term" abortions.
Specter supports abortion rights but did vote for the partial birth ban.
Public radio asked Specter whether he sees in the abortion ruling any hints about how the court will approach broader questions of civil liberty.
"I do not. I think that we have to be vigilant on congressional oversight on the civil liberties issue. We gave the FBI additional power under the Patriot Act but we put limitations on it. Unfortunately, they have not followed the law. Protection of civil liberties, civil rights is indispensable in our democracy, and that’s a matter for congressional oversight, which we are undertaking vigorously," Specter said.
Specter played a major role in the reconstitution of the court.
As then-majority chair of the Senate Judiciary committee, he conducted the hearings that examined the nominations to the court of now-Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.