The United States Senate is now considering my nomination of Judge Sam Alito to be an associate justice on the Supreme Court. As Americans saw in his confirmation hearings, Sam Alito is a man of great character and integrity. He has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years. He understands that the role of a judge is to strictly interpret the law, not to advance a personal or political agenda. And throughout his extraordinary career, Sam Alito has earned the tremendous respect of his colleagues and attorneys across the political spectrum.
This past Wednesday, I met with a distinguished group of 39 former law clerks to Judge Alito. During Judge Alito's 15 years on the bench, these fine men and women have worked side-by-side with him, providing legal research, discussing and debating pending cases, and seeing firsthand how he arrives at decisions. They are uniquely qualified to assess what kind of Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito would be, and they are united in their strong support of Judge Alito's nomination.
One of Judge Alito's former clerks, who describes herself as a "left-leaning Democrat," says this about Sam Alito: "He's a man of great decency, integrity, and character. I believe very strongly he deserves to be confirmed as the Court's next associate justice." Another former clerk worked on Senator Kerry's presidential campaign. She says this about Judge Alito: "His approach to judging is not about personal ideology or ambition, but about hard work and devotion to law and justice." In fact, Judge Alito has the strong support of all 54 of his former clerks, regardless of their political beliefs. They know him well, and they know he'll make an outstanding Supreme Court Justice.
Judge Alito has also earned broad support from his fellow judges on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Seven of them took the extraordinary step of testifying on his behalf before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Former Chief Judge Ed Becker — who sat with Judge Alito on more than 1,000 cases — said this about his colleague: "He's a real judge, deciding each case on the facts and the law, not on his personal views." Another colleague on the Third Circuit who was appointed by President Clinton said this about Judge Alito: "He is a fair-minded man, a modest man, a humble man, and he reveres the rule of law." This judge went on to say that, if confirmed, Judge Alito "will serve as a marvelous and distinguished associate justice."
Judge Alito received the American Bar Association's highest possible rating — a unanimous "well-qualified."
The ABA based its rating on its assessment of Judge Alito's integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament. In the past, leading Democratic senators have called the ABA rating the "gold standard" for judicial nominees.
This past week, Judge Alito gained the endorsement of Pennsylvania's Democratic Governor, Ed Rendell. Governor Rendell said he was not pleased with the partisan way some of his fellow Democrats have handled Sam Alito's nomination. Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia announced he was voting for Judge Alito. And he said that many people in his state were calling the treatment of Judge Alito by some Democrats "an outrage and a disgrace." Another Democratic Senator expressed concern that the Senate confirmation process in recent years has become "overly politicized, to the detriment of the rule of law."
The Senate has a constitutional responsibility to hold an up-or-down vote on Judge Alito's nomination. Throughout its 216-year history, the Senate has held an up-or-down vote on every Supreme Court nominee with majority Senate support. Judge Alito has demonstrated that he is eminently qualified to serve on our nation's highest court, and America is fortunate to have a man of his integrity and intellect willing to serve.
I'm grateful to Judge Alito, his wife Martha, and the Alito children for their patience and dignity during the process. And I look forward to the Senate voting to confirm Judge Sam Alito as the 110th justice of the Supreme Court.
Thank you for listening.