REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AND SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE ALITO
The Cross Halls
8:01 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I’m pleased to announce my nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr., as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Alito is one of the most accomplished and respected judges in America, and his long career in public service has given him an extraordinary breadth of experience.
As a Justice Department official, federal prosecutor and judge on the United States Court of Appeals, Sam Alito has shown a mastery of the law, a deep commitment of justice, and a — and he is a man of enormous character. He’s scholarly, fair-minded and principled, and these qualities will serve our nation well on the highest court of the land.
Judge Alito showed great promise from the beginning in studies at Princeton and Yale Law School; as editor of the Yale Law Journal; as a clerk for a federal court of appeals judge. He served in the Army Reserves and was honorably discharged as a captain. Early in his career, Sam Alito worked as a federal prosecutor and handled criminal and civil matters for the United States. As assistant to the solicitor general, he argued 12 cases before the Supreme Court, and has argued dozens of others before the federal courts of appeals.
He served in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel providing constitutional advice for the President and the executive branch. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan named him the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, the top prosecutor in one of the nation’s largest federal districts, and he was confirmed by unanimous consent by the Senate. He moved aggressively against white-collar and environmental crimes, and drug trafficking, and organized crime, and violation of civil rights.
In his role, Sam Alito showed a passionate commitment to the rule of law, and he gained a reputation for being both tough and fair. In 1990, President Bush nominated Sam Alito, at the age of 39, for the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Judge Alito’s nomination received bipartisan support and he was again confirmed by unanimous consent by the United States Senate. Judge Alito has served with distinction on that court for 15 years and now has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years.
Judge Alito’s reputation has only grown over the span of his service. He has participated in thousands of appeals and authored hundreds of opinions. This record reveals a thoughtful judge who considers the legal matter — marriage carefully and applies the law in a principled fashion. He has a deep understanding of the proper role of judges in our society. He understands that judges are to interpret the laws, not to impose their preferences or priorities on the people.
In the performance of his duties, Judge Alito has gained the respect of his colleagues and attorneys for his brilliance and decency. He’s won admirers across the political spectrum. I’m confident that the United States Senate will be impressed by Judge Alito’s distinguished record, his measured judicial temperament, and his tremendous personal integrity. And I urge the Senate to act promptly on this important nomination so that an up or down vote is held before the end of this year.
Today, Judge Alito is joined by his wife, Martha, who was a law librarian when he first met her. Sam and I both know you can’t go wrong marrying a librarian. Sam and Martha’s two children, Phil and Laura, are also with us, and I know how proud you are of your dad today. I’m sure, as well, that Judge Alito is thinking of his mom, Rose, who will be 91 in December. And I know he’s thinking about his late father. Samuel Alito, Sr., came to this country as an immigrant child from Italy in 1914, and his fine family has realized the great promise of our country.
Judge, thanks for agreeing to serve, and congratulations on your nomination.
JUDGE ALITO: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you very much, Mr. President. I am deeply honored to be nominated to serve on the Supreme Court, and I am very grateful for the confidence that you have shown in me.
The Supreme Court is an institution that I have long held in reverence. During my 29 years as a public servant, I’ve had the opportunity to view the Supreme Court from a variety of perspectives — as an attorney in the Solicitor General’s Office, arguing and briefing cases before the Supreme Court, as a federal prosecutor, and most recently for the last 15 years as a judge of the Court of Appeals. During all of that time, my appreciation of the vital role that the Supreme Court plays in our constitutional system has greatly deepened.
I argued my first case before the Supreme Court in 1982, and I still vividly recall that day. I remember the sense of awe that I felt when I stepped up to the lectern. And I also remember the relief that I felt when Justice O’Connor — sensing, I think, that I was a rookie — made sure that the first question that I was asked was a kind one. I was grateful to her on that happy occasion, and I am particularly honored to be nominated for her seat.
My most recent visit to the Supreme Court building was on a very different and a very sad occasion: It was on the occasion of the funeral of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. And as I approached the Supreme Court building with a group of other federal judges, I was struck by the same sense of awe that I had felt back in 1982, not because of the imposing and beautiful building in which the Supreme Court is housed, but because of what the building, and, more importantly, the institutions stand for — our dedication as a free and open society to liberty and opportunity, and, as it says above the entrance to the Supreme Court, “equal justice under law.”
Every time that I have entered the courtroom during the past 15 years, I have been mindful of the solemn responsibility that goes with service as a federal judge. Federal judges have the duty to interpret the Constitution and the laws faithfully and fairly, to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans, and to do these things with care and with restraint, always keeping in mind the limited role that the courts play in our constitutional system. And I pledge that if confirmed I will do everything within my power to fulfill that responsibility.
I owe a great deal to many people who have taught me over the years about the law and about judging, to judges before whom I have appeared, and to colleagues who have shown me with their examples what it means to be a fair and conscientious and temperate judge.
I also owe a great deal, of course, to the members of my family. I wish that my father had lived to see this day. He was an extraordinary man who came to the United States as a young child, and overcame many difficulties and made many sacrifices so that my sister and I would have opportunities that he did not enjoy.
As the President mentioned, my mother will be celebrating her 91st birthday next month. She was a pioneering and very dedicated public school teacher who inspired my sister and me with a love of learning. My wife, Martha, has been a constant source of love and support for the past 20 years. My children, Philip and Laura, are the pride of my life and they have made sure that being a judge has never gone to my head — they do that very well on a, pretty much, daily basis. And my sister, Rosemary, has always been a great friend and an inspiration as a great lawyer, and as a strong and independent person.
I look forward to working with the Senate in the confirmation process. Mr. President, thank you, once again, for the confidence that you’ve shown in me and for honoring me with this nomination.
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