Former United States senator Arlen Specter passed away at the age of 82 on Sunday morning. Specter passed away from complications of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Specter was a five-term senator who graduated from University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1951 and was recently co-teaching a class at the school. Specter was added to the law faculty in the fall of 2011. He taught “Congress, Constitution and the Supreme Court.” His final class at the school came on October 4, according to the Daily Pennsylvanian.
“He shook my hand and he told me that he looked forward to the next class,” said Matthew Wiener. Wiener co-taught the class with Specter and was Specter’s former General Counsel. “He was always looking forward to the long term,” he added.
From 1966 to 1974, Specter worked as the District Attorney for Philadelphia. Wiener said that Specter “identified himself professionally first and foremost as a lawyer.”
In a statement, the dean of Pennsylvania Law, Michael Fitts, said: “I join the Penn community, to which he was so devoted, in extending my condolences to his family. We will miss him greatly. Arlen Specter was a giant in American politics, dedicating his life to public service and a commitment to passing this knowledge on to our students in his course on the separation of powers.”
For 30 years Specter worked as a Republican in the United States Senate. His 30 years in the Senate made him the senator with the longest time of service in the state of Pennsylvania. In 2009 Specter switched parties and became a Democrat. At this time, Specter said, “I am not prepared to have my 29-year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate — not prepared to have that record decided by that jury.”
Even Specter’s rivals have honored the former senator. Pat Toomey described Specter as “a man of sharp intelligence and dogged determination.” He added that “his impact on our state and public policy will not be forgotten.”
In a statement released by President Barack Obama, he said that “Arlen Specter was always a fighter … Arlen was fiercely independent — never putting party or ideology ahead of the people he was chosen to serve.”
“Sen. Specter did more for the people of Pennsylvania over his more than 30 year career with the possible exception of Benjamin Franklin,” Ed Rendell said. Rendell is the former governor of Pennsylvania.
“Wherever he was in his life, including in the senate, he left a very large footprint,” Wiener said.