Spotlight shone on Specter throughout his career

Posted: October 16, 2012

FOR ARLEN SPECTER, independence was a cherished ideal, and he largely followed that philosophy through political currents that often turned treacherous. Specter graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and then Yale University. He lived in East Falls with his wife, Joan. They have two sons and four grandchildren. Among the highlights of Specter's public career:

1964: Specter was the author of the "single-bullet" theory in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as counsel to the Warren Commission.

Specter brooked no disagreement with his conclusion from conspiracy theorists who couldn't believe that Lee Harvey Oswald had fired only one bullet that killed Kennedy and wounded Texas Gov. John Connally.

The idea was ridiculed in Oliver Stone's controversial film "JFK." Specter considered suing Stone, but decided against it.

1979: After losing a re-election bid for another term as Philadelphia district attorney, Specter went into private practice. He represented killer Ira Einhorn at his bail hearing in 1979, after the body of Einhorn's girlfriend, Holly Maddux, had been found in a trunk in Einhorn's closet.

Specter argued that Einhorn deserved to be freed without bail because the prosecution had failed to prove a cause of death or to link Einhorn to the death. The judge set bail at $40,000, which Einhorn proceeded to jump.

1987: Specter's opposition scuttled the Supreme Court nomination of conservative federal appeals Judge Robert Bork.

1991: Specter drew sharp criticism from women with his harsh questioning of Anita Hill, who claimed Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her, during confirmation hearings in 1991.

1995: Specter thought he would try for the White House himself. He announced his candidacy, but withdrew in favor of Kansas Sen. Robert Dole, an alumnus of the same high school in Kansas that Specter attended.

2009: Specter voted for President Obama's $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, one of only three Republicans to support the bill.

Specter called it the "biggest vote of my 28 years. . . . Without the three of us, this would not have happened. That's a lot of responsibility. That's a career vote. A lot of calls are saying it's a career -ending vote."

Obama called Specter one of the "thoughtful Republicans."

In April 2009, Specter switched to the Democratic Party. But after falling in the 2010 Senate primary to U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, Specter felt that Obama had abandoned him, and in January urged the Democratic Party to dump Obama in favor of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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