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Rick Santorum

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Rick Santorum

Richard John Santorum (born May 10, 1958), commonly known as Rick Santorum, is an American politician from the state of Pennsylvania. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990 and to the U.S. Senate in 1994. Santorum is a right-wing Republican who currently is chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, the number three job in the party leadership. In recent years, Santorum's comments and public statements, especially on social issues such as same-sex marriage, have made him a highly controversial figure. He is up for re-election in the November 2006 elections.


Contents

Personal background

Santorum was born in Winchester, Virginia. His father was an immigrant from Italy. Santorum received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1980 and an Master of Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh in 1981. After graduating he became an administrative assistant to state Senator J. Doyle Corman (until 1986) and director of the Pennsylvania Senate local government committee (until 1984, when he became the director of the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee (1984–1986). His wife, Karen Garver Santorum, is the author of a book on etiquette. [1] (http://www.booksforcatholics.com/listings/l0109.html)

He and his wife have six children, Elizabeth Anne, Richard John ("Johnny"), Jr., Daniel James, Sarah Maria, Peter Kenneth, and Patrick Francis. Their son Gabriel Michael was born prematurely in 1996--at 20 weeks--and died two hours after being born. Instead of taking the baby to a funeral home, Rick and his wife brought the palm size Gabriel home to show to their other children (then ages four, six, and eight), take photos and sing to the fetus. [2] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A61804-2005Apr17?language=printer) While many found this to be rather disturbing and unusual, Karen used the experience to write a book, Letters to Gabriel: The True Story of Gabriel Michael Santorum.

In 1986, he received a law degree from the Dickinson School of Law, was admitted to the bar and began a practice in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In 1990, at age 32, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives defeating a seven-term Democratic incumbent; he served two terms (January 3, 1991–January 3, 1995). He was elected to the Senate in 1994, defeating the incumbent Democrat Harris Wofford, and was re-elected in 2000.

Santorum attends a Catholic church near Washington, DC. Other church members include former FBI head Louis Freeh, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and formerly, Robert Hanssen, FBI turncoat spy.

Santorum has been active in welfare reform and government accountability. He is a pro-life conservative, favors legislation against abortion. Although he's personally against abortion and sodomy, he's comfortable if states decided these questions themselves via their elected officials instead judicial courts.

In September of 2004, Santorum stated his intention to run for United States Senate Republican Whip in 2006. However, he lost by a one-vote margin.

Santorum has come under a great deal of fire from the left regarding many of his views. Consequently, he is high on the Democratic Party's list of senators to defeat in 2006 (see U.S. Senate election, 2006).

Legislation and issues

In 2001, Santorum tried unsuccessfully to insert language into the No Child Left Behind bill that would require that "a full range of views" on human origins be taught in classes. This Santorum Amendment attempted to relativize the teaching of biological evolution in U.S. public schools. The amendment would have required schools to discuss controversies surrounding scientific topics, and give the theory of evolution as an example; many people interpreted this to mean that alternative theories like intelligent design would have to be taught in schools. The Senate passed a weaker non-binding version of the amendment, which two Ohio Congressmen have invoked to suggest that the state should include "intelligent design" in its science standards.

Santorum and John Kerry (D-MA) are the lead sponsors of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act (WRFA), which would require employers to accommodate the religious observances of their employees as long as providing such accommodations will not impose an "undue hardship" upon the employer. Thus, employers would be encouraged to afford employees flexible work shifts so that they may observe religious holy days and permit employees to wear religiously-required garb at work. Versions of the WRFA have been introduced in 1997, 2000, and 2003 but so far have failed to pass.

Though not a named author of the special Terri Schiavo legislation, Santorum played a key role in shepherding the bill through the Senate to a vote on March 20, 2005. Santorum has frequently stated that he does not believe a "right to privacy" exists under the Constitution, even within marriage. Santorum has been particularly critical of the Supreme Court decision Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), which gave married couples the right to buy and use birth control.

Santorum is also an active supporter of Social Security partial-privatization or "personalization" as the Senator likes to call it. Following the 2004 Presidential election, Santorum has held many forums across Pennsylvania to gauge public views on the subject and to impress the importance of reform. He visited Bucknell University (2005-03-23), Bucks County and Lafayette College (Northampton County) on (2005-02-25), Harrisburg (2005-02-24), Penn State University and Erie County (2005-02-23), Drexel University and Widener University (2005-02-22), and University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and Duquesne University in Pittsburgh (2005-02-21).

Remarks about homosexuality

Main article: Santorum controversy

A sizeable controversy arose following Santorum's statements about homosexuality in an interview with the Associated Press taped on April 7, 2003 and published April 20, 2003. In response to a question on his position on how to prevent sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests, Santorum described homosexual acts as part of a class of deviant sexual behavior, including incest, polygamy, and zoophilia, which threaten society and the family. Furthermore, Santorum stated that he believed consenting adults do not have a Constitutional right to privacy with respect to sexual acts.

Santorum said that the priests were engaged in "a basic homosexual relationship" with "post-pubescent men", and went on to express that he had "a problem with homosexual acts", that the right to privacy "doesn't exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution", that "whether it's polygamy, whether it's adultery, where it's sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family," that sodomy laws properly exist to prevent acts which "undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family." When the A.P. reporter asked, "OK, without being too gory or graphic, so if somebody is homosexual, you would argue that they should not have sex?", Santorum replied, "In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be."

Democratic politicians including the 2004 Democratic presidential candidates, gay rights advocates such as Dan Savage (details), and other liberal commentators condemned the statements, while Republican politicians, religious conservatives, and other conservative commentators supported Santorum and called the condemnations unfair. Some critics argued that Santorum's position may also affect heterosexuals, as Santorum said that he did not believe there is a Constitutional right to engage in private consensual sexual acts.

Santorum did not back down from his remarks, stating that they were not intended to equate homosexuality with incest and adultery, but rather as a critique of the specific legal position that the right to privacy prevents the government from regulating consensual acts among adults (such as bigamy, incest, etc.), because he does not believe that there is a Constitutional right to privacy.

Residency and tuition controversy

In November 2004, a controversy erupted over education costs for the Senator's children. Santorum's legal address is in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, but he lives most of the year at his home in Leesburg, Virginia near Washington, DC. Santorum's five older children received education through the Western Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School with 80% of tuition costs paid by the Penn Hills School District.

At a meeting in November 2004, the Penn Hills School District announced that it did not believe Santorum met the qualifications for residency status since he and his family spend most of the year in Virginia. They demanded repayment of tuition costs totaling $100,000.

Reporters visiting the house Santorum claimed as his noted that, as a two-bedroom, it seemed small for the large Santorum family. The door was answered by a man who refused to identify himself, and neighbors said two cars were regularly parked at the house. When checking at the township government offices, they discovered the building department had never issued a certificate of occupancy and thus no one could legally live in it.

Supporters of the Senator claim that the controversy is politically motivated as the school board is controlled by Democrats and Erin Vecchio, the school board member who first publicly raised the issue, is the chair of the local Democratic Party. They also claim that since Santorum votes in Penn Hills and pays property and school taxes there, he is entitled to the same privileges as any other Penn Hills resident.

After the controversy erupted, Santorum said he would make other arrangements for his children's education, but insists he does not owe the school board any back tuition. In early 2005, both sides agreed to work out a settlement outside the court system. A state appointed hearing officer has set a deadline of May 9, 2005 for the parties to reach a settlement. [3] (http://www.timesonline.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=14247320&BRD=2305&PAG=461&dept_id=478663&rfi=6)

2006 re-election campaign

Currently, Robert Patrick Casey, Jr. and Chuck Pennacchio have announced that they will seek the Democratic nomination to face Santorum in the 2006 election. Polls show that in a hypothetical matchup, Casey would defeat Santorum by 14 percent [4] (http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x15431.xml), widening an earlier 5 percent lead [5] (http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x11379.xml?ReleaseID=649).

In March 2005, Santorum criticized Senator Robert C. Byrd for comparing George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler. [6] (http://pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/trib/newssummary/s_309392.html) On May 19, 2005, Santorum himself invoked the Nazi dictator, making an analogy between Senate Democrats opposing the anti-filibuster bill and Hitler's occupation of Paris. [7] (http://rawstory.com/exclusives/byrne/santorum_hitler_519) The Anti-Defamation League responded with a letter to Santorum condemning his remark as "utterly inappropriate and insensitive" and demonstrating "a profound lack of understanding." [8] (http://www.adl.org/holocaust/Letter_santorum.asp) Professor Pennacchio also promptly criticized Santorum, stating that "as an historian of Holocaust-era Germany, I find Rick Santorum’s comment to be offensive, divisive, and destructive." [9] (http://www.chuck2006.com/blogDetail.asp?id=140) Pennacchio also posted a video on his website showing Santorum making comments in which he compares the New York Times to Communists, Baathists and Nazis. [10] (http://www.chuck2006.com/blogDetail.asp?id=143)

External links


Preceded by:
Doug Walgren
U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania's 3rd Congressional District
1991-1995
Succeeded by:
Michael F. Doyle
Preceded by:
Harris Wofford
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Pennsylvania
1995-
Succeeded by:
Incumbent

Template:End box Template:PA-FedRep Template:Current U.S. Senatorsfr:Rick Santorum

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