Last October, I was proud to nominate Judge Sam Alito to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. This week, Judge Alito testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the American people saw a man of character and intelligence. He forthrightly answered questions with grace and composure, and showed his personal humility and legal brilliance -- qualities that have made him one of America's most accomplished and respected judges.
In his opening statement to the Committee, Judge Alito offered an eloquent description of the proper role of a judge. He put it this way: "A judge cannot have any agenda, a judge cannot have any preferred outcome in any particular case. The judge's only obligation is to the rule of law. In every single case, the judge has to do what the law requires."
Judge Alito has embodied this understanding of a judge's proper role throughout his distinguished career. He has participated in thousands of appeals, and he has authored hundreds of opinions. His record shows that he strictly and fairly interprets the Constitution and laws, and does not try to legislate from the bench or impose his personal preference on the people. As the American people saw this week, Judge Alito always approaches the law in a thoughtful, fair, and open-minded way.
Throughout his life, Sam Alito has demonstrated a mastery of the law, great decency, and a strong commitment to public service. As a young man, he wore his country's uniform in the Army Reserve, and achieved the rank of Captain. Early in his legal career, he worked as a federal prosecutor. As Assistant to the Solicitor General, Sam Alito argued 12 cases before the Supreme Court. He later served in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, where he provided constitutional advice for the President and the executive branch.
In 1987, President Reagan named Sam Alito the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey -- the top federal prosecutor in one of the Nation's largest federal districts. The Senate confirmed him by unanimous consent. In this important post, Sam Alito showed a passionate commitment to justice and the rule of law, and earned a reputation for being both tough and fair. He moved aggressively against white-collar and environmental crimes, drug trafficking, organized crime, and violations of civil rights. In 1990, President Bush nominated Sam Alito for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and the Senate once again confirmed him by unanimous consent. He's served with distinction on that court for 15 years, and he has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years.
Sam Alito's brilliance, integrity, and accomplishments have gained him respect and praise from his colleagues and from attorneys across the political spectrum. This week, fellow judges from the Third Circuit publicly testified in support of his confirmation, and they praised his integrity and fairness. The American Bar Association gave Judge Alito a unanimous rating of "well-qualified" -- the ABA's highest possible rating. The ABA concluded that Judge Alito meets "the highest standards" of "integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament." In the past, leading Democratic senators have called the ABA's rating system the "gold standard" for judicial nominees.
During this week's hearings and over the course of his career, Judge Alito has demonstrated that he is eminently qualified to serve on our Nation's highest court. I'm grateful to Senator Arlen Specter for his superb work in chairing the hearings. I also thank Judge Alito's wife, Martha, and the Alito children for their patience and dignity during the confirmation process.
Now the Senate has a duty to give Judge Alito a prompt up-or-down vote. I look forward to the Senate voting to confirm Sam Alito as 110th Justice of the Supreme Court. America is fortunate to have a man of his intellect and integrity willing to serve, and as a Justice on our Nation's highest court, Sam Alito will make all Americans proud.
Thank you for listening.