As the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time of his switch, there has been ample discussion of what Specter's switch means for Obama's judicial nominees. So far Specter has said all the right things about remaining independent and not being a guaranteed vote. This all sounds well and good, but as Nate Silver reports it may not remain true.
"When Congressmen have changed parties in the past, this has generally been accompanied by relatively material changes in their voting patterns ... All of the party-switchers moved toward the direction of their (new) party caucus after making the change, although with somewhat varying degrees of magnitude."
Hopefully any switch in Specter's voting patterns will not encroach into the arena of judicial nominees. While the Democrats have the numbers to confirm just about anyone Obama nominates, Specter has a great opportunity to ensure that a thorough and fair debate is conducted for each and every nominee. As the BLT points out:
"The party switch would make a difference for an Obama nominee if Specter, as a member of the president’s party, were to feel a greater obligation to help end debate and bring a nomination to a vote. He did not indicate today whether he would be more likely to do so."
Hopefully Specter will err on the side of thoroughness and continue to,as he said, "counsel the chairman to have adequate time to prepare." It remains to be seen.