Former senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, one of the nation’s most durable political figures, who during three decades in the Senate became known for his command of constitutional law, died of cancer Oct. 14 at his home in Philadelphia. He was 82.
His son Shanin Specter confirmed his death to the Associated Press.
Sen. Specter was long a voice of Republican moderation, but he handed Democrats a supermajority in the Senate by switching parties in 2009. He lost the Democratic primary the next year in an anti-incumbency movement that swept many veteran politicians from office. He had also exposed himself to charges of political opportunism by changing his party allegiance.
As a young Philadelphia prosecutor, he first gained national attention as assistant counsel to the Warren Commission, which investigated the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He was the chief architect of the commission’s controversial “single-bullet theory,” which held that the same bullet that killed Kennedy also wounded then-Texas Gov. John Connally.