Specter Starts:

Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter held his first confirmation hearings this week, bringing Appeals Court nominees William Myers III and Terrence Boyle as well as two District Court nominees before his committee. At a February 24 press briefing, Specter said he counted 58 votes for Myers–which would include all 55 Republicans and Democratic Senators Joe Biden (Del.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), and newly elected Ken Salazar (Colo.). Biden and Nelson voted for cloture on Myers last year, and Salazar co-signed a letter supporting an up-or-down vote for Myers during his senatorial campaign. But Salazar wrote President Bush chastising him for re-nominating Myers and six other nominees Democrats had blocked. Even with Salazar, however, Specter’s whip check falls two short of the 60 needed to end a filibuster.