For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 1, 2006
President Attends Swearing-In Ceremony for Associate Justice Samuel Alito
The East Room
4:22 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Laura and I welcome you to the White House. Mr. Chief Justice, thank you for coming. Members of the Supreme Court, thank you all for being here. Members of the Senate, honored you're here. Ladies and gentlemen, appreciate you joining us on this historic occasion. This afternoon we're also honored by the presence of a strong and graceful woman, Mrs. Cissy Marshall. Thank you for coming, Mrs. Marshall.
Yesterday the United States Senate confirmed Sam Alito as the 110th Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Last night he looked pretty good in that black robe sitting there. (Laughter and applause.)
It's a proud day for Judge Alito and his entire family. We extend a special welcome to Martha, who has been at his side for more than 20 years. And with us, you can see his son, Phil, and daughter, Laura. If they're anything like our daughters, they're probably telling their dad how to behave and how to testify. (Laughter.)
I appreciate Rosemary being with us today, and we're thinking of Sam's mom, Rose, who turned 91 in December. And of course, as we think of Rose, we think of her husband, Sam's late father. He came to our country as an immigrant from Italy in 1914. Sam Alito, Sr. instilled in his son a deep commitment to serving his fellow Americans. And I'm sure he's looking down with pride as Sam takes his place on the highest court of the United States of America.
Sam Alito is replacing an extraordinary Justice, Sandra Day O'Connor. Justice O'Connor has been an admired member of the Supreme Court for 24 years. She has served our nation with decency and spirit and great devotion, and I thank her on behalf of all the American people. (Applause.)
Sam, you've drawn quite a distinguished crowd here. I appreciate the Vice President being here, and Lynne. I want to thank the Attorney General and other members of my Cabinet who have joined us today. I want to thank the members of my team who have worked so hard to help Sam, particularly former Senator Dan Coats of Indiana.
I want to thank Secretary Mike Chertoff, who's with us. The reason I bring up Chertoff is they worked together, and Chertoff kind of put in a good word for Sam, you know. (Laughter.) At a crucial moment. (Laughter.)
I particularly want to thank the members of the Senate who are here. I'm sorry I'm a little late. I've just come in from Tennessee. I got a little windy. And Senator Frist was with me. I appreciate you, Leader, for working hard to get this good man through. And thank you, Mitch McConnell -- Senator McConnell -- as well.
I don't want name all the senators since we're running a little late, but I do want to mention the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, who did a heck of good job. (Applause.)
Judge Alito becomes Justice Alito. As he becomes Justice Alito, our nation completes a process that was ordained by our founders in Philadelphia more than 200 years ago. Under the Constitution, the President nominates, and by and with the consent -- advice and consent of the Senate, appoints the justices of the Supreme Court. This process has been carried out many times since the beginning of our democracy. And each new appointment represents a renewal of the promise of our country and our constitutional order.
Our founders thought carefully about the role they wanted judges to play in the American republic. They decided on a court system that would be independent from political or public pressure, with judges who serve for life. America expects members of our judiciary to be prudent in exercising judicial power, and firm in defending judicial independence. So every member of the Supreme Court takes an oath to uphold the Constitution and administer justice faithfully and impartially. This is a solemn responsibility.
And the man we honor today has demonstrated his devotion to our courts and law through years of service to our country. Sam Alito has distinguished himself as a member of our military, a federal prosecutor, assistant to the Solicitor General, U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, and for the last 15 years, a highly respected judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
Sam Alito is known for his steady demeanor, careful judgment and complete integrity. Throughout his career he has treated others with respect. In return he has earned the admiration of his colleagues on the bench, the lawyers who have come before it, and, of course, a very devoted group of proud law clerks.
During the confirmation process, the American people saw a man of character and legal brilliance. Like our fellow citizens, I was impressed by the dignity Sam -- by the dignity Sam Alito and his family displayed during the Senate hearings, and by the thoughtful scholarship and reverence of the Constitution that have always defined his approach to the law.
A Supreme Court justice must meet the highest standard of legal excellence, while serving with humility and fidelity to our founding promise of equal justice under the law. These are qualities Americans want in a Supreme Court justice. These are qualities Americans see in Sam Alito. He will make a superb justice of the Supreme Court, and I know this son of New Jersey will make all Americans proud.
Sam, I thank you for agreeing to serve our country again, and for accepting this new call to duty.
Now I ask the Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, to please step forward and administer the oath. (Applause.)
(The Oath of Office is administered.)
JUSTICE ALITO: I'm really overwhelmed by this occasion, and I thank you all for that applause, and thank you for coming.
And thank you very much, Mr. President. Thank you for nominating me, and for all of the time and attention and personal support and encouragement that you have given to me and to my family at every step of this process, from the nomination all the way through the confirmation. My family and I are deeply -- (applause.)
I am very thankful for all the people who helped me get through the past three months. And I really wish that I could name them all, but we would be here all afternoon if I did that. And so I will not try to name everyone, but I must especially mention Harriet Miers and Bill Kelly -- (applause) -- and the lawyers in their office, and Ed Gillespie and Senator Dan Coats, without whose help I would still be wandering aimlessly -- (laughter) -- in the Senate complex. (Laughter.) And all of the great lawyers from the Department of Justice under General Gonzales -- Rachel Brand and Christy Macklin, and many others.
As I said, I feel bad that I can't mention everybody's name. But I hope they all know how much I appreciate everything that they've done for me.
I want to express my gratitude to members of the Senate. I will always be very grateful to Chairman Specter for ensuring that -- for the very fair and expert way in which the proceedings before the Senate Judiciary Committee were conducted, and to all of the members of the Judiciary Committee who ensured that the record of the hearing contained all the information that was necessary for a fair assessment of my nomination.
I also -- I'm very grateful to Senator Frist and to Senator McConnell for all of their efforts, and for all the members of the Senate who supported me and gave fair and conscientious consideration to my nomination. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Many people helped me at various stages of my legal career, and I hope they all know how much I appreciate what they've done for me. And again, I'd love to mention everybody, but I won't do that. But I hope they know how much it means to me that so many of them are here today, and all the things that they've done for me.
This is a very happy occasion for me, but I am sorry to be leaving some wonderful colleagues on the United States Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit. But I'm comforted by the fact that we will always be close friends. And I was very touched yesterday by the extremely gracious and warm reception that I received from my new colleagues.
During my 15 years on the Court of Appeals my law clerks were absolutely indispensable. And I can't begin to tell them how much I appreciate all the things that they did for me over the last three months.
My family, as usual, has been incredible. They mean everything to me, and I hope they know how much I love them and how much their support has meant to me. (Applause.)
And finally, I want to express my thanks from the bottom of my heart to the many people -- friends and neighbors and colleagues and many other people who have gone out of their way since the day of my nomination to extend words of support and encouragement to me. So many people have written me letters; so many people from all walks of life have stopped me on the street to tell me that they were praying for me and for members of my family. And the prayers of so many diverse people around the country have been a really palpable and a powerful force. And I'm very grateful to all of them.
I don't think that anyone can become a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States without feeling a tremendous weight of responsibility and a tremendous sense of humility. And of course, it's particularly humbling to try to succeed Justice O'Connor, to whom the country owes such a great debt of gratitude for her tremendous service.
I will not go on too long. I will just conclude by saying that the many letters that I've received over the past three months have reminded me how much the people of the United States revere our Constitution and our form of government, and how much they look to the Supreme Court of the United States to protect our form of government and our freedoms. That is an awesome responsibility. And in light of that, I think it's only -- only very simple and very sincere words are appropriate in closing. And so I simply pledge that I will do everything in my power to live up to the trust that has been placed in me.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 4:36 P.M. EST