But even if he did "switch teams"... that would not be an excuse to violate the Constitution
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in consequence of the first election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three classes. The seats of the Senators of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year, of the second class at the expiration of the fourth year, and the third class at the expiration of the sixth year, so that one third may be chosen every second year; and if vacancies happen by resignation, or otherwise, during the recess of the legislature of any state, the executive thereof may make temporary appointments until the next meeting of the legislature, which shall then fill such vacancies.
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislatures.
When vacancies happen in the representation of any state in the Senate, the executive authority of such state shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, that the legislature of any state may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.
I strongly disagree that political parties should be written into the Constitution
Now, I would think it is self-evident that today, most Senators are elected for representing a political party, and not personal qualities. So, if a Senator switches parties, I too think he should resign and stand for election within 60 days.
My Senators are Kerry and Kennedy.
Specter's defection is a big deal in the next year-- mainly because his concern is no longer trying to prove he is a Republican. His main challenge now will be winning the Democratic primary (which may even now be difficult) meaning that he is going to have to win the votes of moderate Democrats.
The best political move for him would have been for him to back EFCA meaning he would have sewn up support from labor. It is too late now for him to go back on this.
But think of the bills that will come down the pike where Specters vote will be key in breaking filibusters... health care, immigration, stimulus, judges. In a 60-40 senate (and yes, Franken will be seated in May) it is very cool that this key vote is no longer trying to prove how Republican he is, and is instead trying to reach out to his new party.
As far as the ability to break filibusters and pass legislation in the coming year... this is quite a big deal.
It's difficult to ferret out the range of motives and rationales here re the open arms, roses and chocolate boxes for Arlen. And it does seem that in the short term, a 'solid' Dem might have been preferable. Either Rendell, Reid and others saw benefits we can't see or buddyhood won out.
I hope I am not being too unfair to him, I am sure he thinks he holds certain principles dear, but the party switch seems all too transparently political to save his own chance of holding office.