Reactions to the Alito Nomination
President Bush's nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to replace the retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor produced mixed reactions among lawmakers and interest groups. Liberals criticized Alito's selection as a way for President Bush to cater to his conservative base after conservative opposition led to the withdrawal of Harriet Miers, Bush's previous nominee. Below is a sample of reactions:
President Bush: "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… 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…
"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."
Judge Samuel Alito: "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."
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN): "Judge Alito is unquestionably qualified to serve on our nation's highest court. And on the bench, he has displayed a judicial philosophy marked by judicial restraint and respect for the limited role of the judiciary to interpret the law and not legislate from the bench."
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV): "The nomination of Judge Alito requires an especially long, hard look by the Senate because of what happened last week to Harriet Miers. Conservative activists forced Miers to withdraw from consideration for this same Supreme Court seat because she was not radical enough for them. Now the Senate needs to find out if the man replacing Miers is too radical for the American people."
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee: "President Bush has hit a home run by selecting Sam Alito. Anyone would be hard-pressed to name another nominee with such a sterling and distinguished record. Judge Alito believes the law -- not the judge -- should determine the results in a case. Judges are not politicians, and my Senate colleagues would do well to remember this standard as they consider this outstanding pick."
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee: "With turmoil engulfing the White House, with no way out of the disastrous and deadly occupation of Iraq, with a worsening federal debt, and with obscenely high profits that continue to pile up for the Administration’s Big Oil friends, catering to an extreme wing of one political party risks removing checks and balances for the majority of Americans. It is unfortunate that the President felt he was in such a weak position that he had to bend to a narrow but vocal faction of his political base. The Supreme Court is the ultimate check and balance in our system that protects the fundamental rights of all Americans."
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee: "It is sad that the president felt he had to pick a nominee likely to divide America instead of choosing a nominee in the mold of Sandra Day O'Connor, who would unify us. This controversial nominee, who would make the court less diverse and far more conservative, will get very careful scrutiny from the Senate and from the American people."
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee: "Rather than selecting a nominee for the good of the nation and the court, President Bush has picked a nominee whom he hopes will stop the massive hemorrhaging of support on his right wing. This is a nomination based on weakness, not strength."
Ralph Neas, president of the liberal People For the American Way, a liberal public advocacy group: "President Bush put the demands of his far-right political base above Americans' constitutional rights and legal protections by nominating federal appeals court Judge Samuel Alito to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor."
Kay Daly, president of the conservative Coalition for a Fair Judiciary: "The president has made an excellent choice today which reflects his commitment to appoint judges in the mold of (Antonin) Scalia and (Clarence) Thomas. Sam Alito, a 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals judge, has consistently embraced the original intent of the Constitution."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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