Washington

Arlen Specter Dies at 82

Former Senator was longtime champion of shield law and allowing TV cameras in federal courts 10/15/2012 08:58:44 AM Eastern

Former Pennsylvania Senator Sen. Arlen
Specter, onetime chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and longtime
champion of cameras in the courts, has died. He was 82.

According
to the New York Times, the cause of death was non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Specter,
who had been a Republican, lost his seat in 2010 after switching to the
Democratic Party.

He
was also a long-standing critic of TV sports rights policiies he thought
disadvantaged viewers. Back in 2006, he threatened to try to remove the NFL's antitrust
exemption, citing the NFL's exclusive satellite deal for its Sunday Ticket
package, the move of Monday Night Football to cable, moves to seed its NFL
network with regular season games, and hearkening back to franchise moves like
that of the Colts to Indianapolis, Specter said the NFL was building a case for
the removal of the antitrust exemption it was granted by Congress in 1961.

Specter
was a fan of Comcast and its merger with NBCU. He praised his home-state
company as a good corporate citizen and said the deal -- which was ultimately
approved by the FCC and Justice -- would "advances the national
communications policy goals of diversity, localism, innovation, and
competition."

In
addition to wanting to give broadcast journalists and the public televised
access to trials, the former district attorney long worked for a federal shield
law to provide journalists with limited protection from being forced to give up
sources to the feds. Like cameras in the court legislation, those efforts were
not successful, but not for lack of trying on Specter's part.

One
Arlen effort that broadcasters were just as happy did not succeed was one that
could have taken millions our of broadcasters' campaign ad coffers -- his push
for a campaign finance reform bill that would have given candidates an extra
20% discount over the current lowest unit rate and would have given them non-preemptible
spots for that discounted price.

Commenting on Arlen's death, Vice President Joe Biden tweeted: "Our Nation has lost a dedicated public servant who served his country with strength, grit and determination."

"Arlen
Specter and I were first elected to the United States Senate the same year, and
I served with him on the Judiciary Committee for 30 years," said Senator
Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) Sunday (Oct. 14). "We came from very different
places, an Iowa farmer and a
Philadelphia lawyer, and we had different views, but we shared a commitment to
making the legislative process work in the Senate.  Sen. Specter was a
friend to his colleagues, and he served Pennsylvanians with his tenacity and
willingness to fight hard no matter what the challenge."

Specter
was born in Wichita, Kansas Feb. 12, 1930. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1951 and from Yale Law School in 1956 after two
years in the Air Force. He practiced law in Philadelphia, was the assistant DA
in the city, and was assistant counsel on the Warren Commission, which
investigated the assassination of President Kennedy.

He
was elected to Congress in 1980 and served until Jan.
3, 2011. His chairmanships, in addition to Judiciary, included the
Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Veterans Affairs.

September
October