Washington – President Bush on October
31 named Samuel A. Alito Jr., a U.S. federal court judge,
to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
President George W. Bush shakes hands with Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. after nominating Alito to be associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Monday, October 31 at the White House. "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," says Bush. (© AP/WWP)
“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,” Bush said at a White House ceremony announcing
the nomination. “He’s scholarly, fair-minded
and principled, and these qualities will serve our nation
well on the highest court of the land,” he added.
Bush’s selection of Alito comes less
than a week after Harriet Miers, his earlier choice as a
replacement for retiring associate justice Sandra Day O’Connor,
withdrew her nomination. (See related
In accepting the nomination, Alito said
that he believes a justice’s duty is to “faithfully
and fairly” interpret the U.S. Constitution and to
protect Americans’ constitutional rights. He said
that, if confirmed, he would do so while “always keeping
in mind the limited role that the courts play in our constitutional
Alito argued 12 cases before the Supreme
Court as an assistant to the solicitor general, the lawyer
who represents the U.S. government in Supreme Court cases.
He has also served as a federal prosecutor and for the past
15 years as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
3rdDistrict. Alito said his “appreciation of the vital
role that the Supreme Court plays in our constitutional
system has greatly deepened” during his 29 years as
a public servant.
Judge Alito’s nomination is subject
to confirmation by the U.S. Senate, who confirmed John G.
Roberts as chief justice of the United States on September
29. (See related article.)
Prior to a vote by the Senate, the Senate
Judiciary Committee will hold hearings and question the
nominee. Following the hearings, the committee may refer
the nomination to the full Senate for a vote.
During the hearing process, nominees are
often questioned on their judicial record and views on constitutional
issues. Historically, about 20 percent of Supreme Court
nominees fail to receive Senate confirmation. Once confirmed,
a justice is appointed for life.
Bush urged the U.S. Senate to confirm Alito
before the end of 2005. “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,” the president said.
The U.S. Supreme Court is the highest court
of the United States. During each term, which begins annually
on the first Monday in October, the nine Supreme Court justices
and their staff assess hundreds of cases, primarily appeals
of rulings made by lower courts.
The justices decide which cases of those
cases to accept based on specific legal standards for review.
Supreme Court review is granted to less than 1 percent of
the 7,000 appeals submitted.
For additional information, see The
Supreme Court of the United States: Highest Court in the
Land. A biography
of Judge Alito is available on the White House Web site.
Following is the transcript of remarks by
the president and Judge Alito:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
October 31, 2005
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AND SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE ALITO
The Cross Hall
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
-- merits 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.
END 8:11 A.M. EST