[JURIST] US Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website; JURIST news archive], outgoing chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website], has indicated that President Bush may have to nominate moderate judges to any future vacancies on the US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] following midterm elections that ceded control of Congress to the Democrats. Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer also quoted Specter as speculating that the Democrats, who formally take control in January, may restrict or even halt judicial confirmations until the 2008 presidential elections.
In related comments, Specter expressed hope that the lame-duck Congress will push through legislation [JURIST report] authorizing domestic surveillance [JURIST news archive] of suspected terrorists. Last week, Bush urged lawmakers [transcript] to pass the Terrorist Surveillance Act, which he called an "important priority in the war on terror." The House version of the bill, which was passed in September [JURIST report], would allow warrantless surveillance for fixed periods following an "armed attack" or a "terrorist attack," or if the president perceives an "imminent threat of attack," with indefinite extensions pending congressional and court oversight. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website; JURIST news archive], who is expected to take over as Judiciary Committee chairman, has said that any legislation passed authorizing domestic surveillance of terrorists must contain "adequate checks and balances." The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.