May 18, 2006


Feingold, Specter Clash Over Gay Marriage (LAURIE KELLMAN, 5/18/06, Associated Press)

A Senate committee approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage Thursday, after a shouting match that ended when one Democrat strode out and the Republican chairman bid him "good riddance."

"I don't need to be lectured by you. You are no more a protector of the Constitution than am I," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., shouted after Sen. Russ Feingold (news, bio, voting record) declared his opposition to the amendment, his affinity for the Constitution and his intention to leave the meeting.

"If you want to leave, good riddance," Specter finished. [...]

Amid increasing partisan tension over President Bush's judicial nominees and domestic wiretapping, the panel voted along party lines to send the constitutional amendment — which would prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages — to the full Senate, where it stands little chance of passing.

Democrats complained that bringing up the amendment is a purely political move...

Thank goodness the far Right suicide squad didn't lose us the PA Senate seat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 18, 2006 12:09 PM

Orrin - Not a good example. Pat Toomey would have beaten Joe Hoeffel easily, and Jon Kyl might be chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 18, 2006 2:36 PM

No he wouldn't have and Specter's a better chair.

Posted by: oj at May 18, 2006 2:44 PM

Jim Geraghtey had a comment the other day that bears on the Specter-Toomey race:

The reason the RNC, the NRSC, and RNCC always support incumbents against primary challengers is because it is, I am told, a part of their candidate recruitment strategy. Republican candidate recruiters often find themselves trying to convince happy, successful individuals in the private sector to give all that up and voluntarily sign on for at least a years worth of stress, expense, privacy invasions and aggravation of a campaign. One of the ways they can attract candidates is to say, once youre in, well always have your back. We wont abandon you two years from now, or four years now, or any time in the future. The leadership of the Republican Party will always stick by you in a tough campaign.

Of course, in addition to the official committees, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Rick Santorum all went to the mat to help out Specter in his primary. Why? Well, my guess is that they did a calculation out of the prisoners dilemma. Pretend youre President Bush. If you help out Specter and he wins, it (supposedly) gives you leverage down the road. If you help out Specter and he loses, you have a moment of embarrassment and then you shake hands with Toomey and make up and then you hopefully get a more conservative ally in the Senate. If you dont help out Specter and the incumbent loses, then youve got the same scenario, without the brief embarrassment. But the worst case scenario is you dont help Specter and he wins anyway, because then hes returning to office and hes torqued off because you didnt help him when he needed it. Youve turned a fair-weather ally into an enemy. My guess is, Bush, Cheney, Santorum (and Rove) did the calculations and decided helping out Specter was the best course.

Glad to see Specter living up to his end of the bargain.

Posted by: Mike Morley at May 18, 2006 2:58 PM

Of course, if Specter had the best interest of the party in mind, he wouldn't have run, given his health issues. And he'd now be doing everything he possibly could to get Swann elected governor...

Posted by: b at May 18, 2006 3:31 PM

Hoeffel was a poor candidate - he had no real friends in the state party, and he didn't really have any passionate support among the suburban Dems from Philly, or the inner-city machine vote. Sure, he got the people who voted (D) because they were against Bush. But Toomey won three elections in the Lehigh Valley, and he would have beaten Hoeffel, perhaps by more even than Specter did. He might even have brought enough attention and enthusiasm to the race for Bush to carry PA.

And Santorum is going to beat Casey, who looks emptier with every passing day.

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 18, 2006 3:51 PM

"prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages"

It was my understanding that all the amendment did was allow states to not give "full faith and credit" to definitions of marriage that conflict with the state's own. In other words, prohibit a court in one state from arbitrarily changing that definition in every state. If Calif. and Mass. want to recognize each other's homogamy, then fine. And if Utah doesn't want to , fine too.

Then again, all the reports never bother to include the actual text of the proposed amendment, because that just might not make the spin so easy.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at May 18, 2006 4:20 PM


They preferred Specter.

Posted by: oj at May 18, 2006 4:22 PM

Specter's not my cup of tea, but he's not totally insane either. He did fight for the best Justice in America, Clarence Thomas.

It's not Bush's job to pick senators. That's the job of Pennsylvannia's Republican primary voters; Bush was simply honoring the choice they had previously made.

This is of a piece with the "I'm going to throw a tantrum and not vote!", which will only hurt the causes we care about. We need more senators, not less--Vote!

btw, the FMA would define marriage as it has always been defined before judges forgot their oaths: one man & one woman; no SS"M" or polygamy. It's good that senators will have to go on record and can then be held accountable.

The reason the FMA is necessary is because there are 5 votes for SS"M" on the Court--the only reason they haven't dictated it already is because they know it would make the FMA pass.

Posted by: Noel at May 18, 2006 9:37 PM