Constitution Daily

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Arlen Specter passes away at 82

October 14, 2012 by NCC Staff


Former longtime U.S. senator Arlen Specter has died at the age of 82, his family said on Sunday.

His family said the senator  died at his home in Philadelphia, from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

In a statement, the National Constitution Center noted Specter’s passing and sent its condolences to his family and Joan Specter, the senator’s wife:

“Our pain at Senator Specter’s passing is augmented because we share the loss with Joan Specter, his wife, a former member of the Philadelphia City Council, Philadelphia City Council, and a longtime advocate and former staff member of the National Constitution Center.”

Arlen Specter’s career has included 30 years in the United States senate and two terms as Philadelphia’s district attorney.

Early in his legal career, Specter served on the Warren Commission, which investigated President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

Specter was a key early supporter of the National Constitution Center and he had appeared at a book event here as recently as April 2012.

In fact, Specter is one of the Founding Fathers of the Constitution Center.

In 1998, he arranged for the Senate appropriations committee to meet in Philadelphia at Carpenters Hall to discuss funding the project.

Specter explained to the committee why the Center’s mission was so important as a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational institution.

“Yesterday I was asked a question which is on most people's minds: What does it take to impeach a president? I started to refer to the Constitution, and I was interrupted by the questioner. They did not want to hear anything about the Constitution. I said, well, the Constitution is where you start. It is high crimes and misdemeanors. People do not realize that the Constitution has great force and bearing on virtually everything that happens in America,” he said.

“We know the statistics that school children and high school children or students and Americans generally do not know the Constitution. So I think that this could be a great learning experience for America if handled properly,” Specter added.

For nearly three decades, Specter served on the Senate Judiciary committee, which handled the nominations of Supreme Court justices.

Specter voted in favor of the nine justices currently serving on the Supreme Court, and as Judiciary chair, he oversaw the nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

About Senator Specter

Arlen Specter in the Supreme Court nomination process Arlen Specter passes away at 82 Video: Specter talks about noteworthy hearings Video: Andrea Mitchell remembers Arlen Specter

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