Former Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter died Sunday at his home in Philadelphia at the age of 82.

The New York Times reported Specter's cause of death as complications related to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Specter battled cancer in 2005 and again in 2008.

“Arlen Specter was always a fighter,” President Barack Obama said in a statement.

Specter's political legacy spanned nearly 50 years and his long tenure as chair of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee will continue to resonate on the Supreme Court for decades.

But Specter will likely be remembered for switching allegiances to the Democratic Party after 44 years as a Republican.

In 2010, Democrats failed to return the favor, awarding the Senate nomination to Congressman Joe Sestak, who went on to lose the race.

Republicans attempted to turn Specter's re-election bid into a referendum on gay marriage and the military's ban on open gay service after Specter disavowed many of his previous unsupportive positions on gay rights.

Specter renounced his previous views in a Huffington Post op-ed in which he said it was time to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law which forbids federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay couples. Specter voted for the law in 1996.

In his last vote on gay rights, Specter voted for repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.”