Last year, Sen. Arlen Specter, then-R now-D-Pa., voted against Elena Kagan to become Solicitor General. Now that she's on the short list to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, National Journal has a look at Specter's previous opposition:
But last year, as he took to the Senate floor to debate Kagan's nomination on March 19, Specter was adamant that ducking by nominees should prompt a "no" vote. He noted that he had gone to "substantial length, really great length, to find out about Dean Kagan's approach to the law and approach to the job of solicitor general and to get some of her ideas on the law because she is nominated to a critical public policymaking position."
He had a lengthy one-on-one "courtesy visit" in his office with her, he grilled Kagan at length during the Judiciary hearing, and he followed up with written questions. Despite that "long process," the Pennsylvania lawmaker concluded, "I still don't know very much about Dean Kagan."
Still, even as Specter contends that it is "premature" to take a stance on a nominee, he has repeatedly made clear his unhappiness about nominees running for cover when asked what he sees as legitimate questions. Indeed, in his book, Passion for Truth, published a decade ago, Specter wrote that the Senate "should resist, if not refuse, to confirm Supreme Court nominees who refuse to answer questions on fundamental issues."
But the political realities for Specter have changed. As Obama campaigns for him and helps him in his fight in an upcoming Democratic primary, it appears to be a safe bet that, in the end, whether a nominee is responsive or not, the Pennsylvania senator will vote "aye" to confirm the president's choice to fill Stevens' seat.
I have more on the Specter politics surrounding the Supreme Court nomination on subscriber-only PG+ in the Pittsburgh on the Potomac blog.