Arlen Specter is running a fine hearing, and his exchange with Judge Alito before the 11:30 AM break demonstrated that, unlike his colleagues on the Democratic side of the aisle, he actually knows what he is talking about on some crucial issues being worked out by SCOTUS. The Boerne case continues to rankle the Chairman, as in fact it should rankle a senior member of the legislative branch. But his comments –which he knowingly referenced as for the benefit of the sitting SCOTUS members as much as for the nominee– on the “insult” delivered by SCOTUS decisions rversing careful legislative judgments are serious arguments, and contrast sharply with the buffoonery of Durbin, Buiden etc. Even the exchange on televising SCOTUS proceedings had a point and elicited an interesting detail about Alito’s view on that subject –he supported televising Third Circuit proceedings.
Specter can drive Republicans crazy at times, especially when he allows nominees to languish as he has for long periods without explanation (or when he casually refers to the SCOTUS as “deciding” the 2000 election when in fact voters did so), but he has consistently gotten the big ones correct, and thus far his handling of these hearings has been superb.