Mark Schmitt makes a very good point – we are very, very lucky to have Arlen Specter as the chairman of the Judiciary committee now that Supreme Court openings have occurred. Specter’s a Republican, and he did cave in and help push Clarence Thomas through the Senate, but he’s pro-choice, pro-gay, and, most importantly, he played a pivotal role in sparing us both Robert Bork in 1987 and Harriet Miers just now. Just think if Orin Hatch, Specter’s predecessor, a very-socially-conservative Mormon who supported Bork, had kept on as head. Miers might have been confirmed by now, or, lacking that, Bush’s next wingnut nominee would have slided through. Having Specter isn’t as good as having Leahy would be, but it’s close enough.