Floor Statement of Senator Elizabeth Dole on the Confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito

On the Confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito
by Elizabeth Dole

Delivered on 26 January 2006.

Mr. President, it is my great privilege to support Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr., an outstanding choice for Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Judge Alito is indeed one of the most qualified nominees to ever come before the Senate. He has excelled at every level – high school valedictorian – Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton Editor of the Yale Law Journal – federal prosecutor – distinguished and esteemed judge. His judicial experience and record are vast. During his 15 years on the bench, Judge Alito has participated in more than 1,500 decisions. He has written more than 350 opinions on issues across the legal spectrum. Of the 109 men and women who have been chosen to serve this country on the Supreme Court, Judge Alito has spent more time on the federal bench than all but four. And no nominee to the high court has come before this body in the last 70 years with as much federal judicial experience. Judge Alito is precisely the type of person America needs on the Supreme Court.

Yet despite Judge Alito’s obvious qualifications for this important post, some members of the other party have resorted to personal attacks in an effort to deny this good and honorable public servant confirmation by the Senate. They have questioned his integrity – questioned his commitment to equal rights – and mischaracterized his rulings from the bench.

But in reality, the hostility towards Judge Alito has nothing to do with his integrity, his commitment to fairness, or even his view of executive power. Rather, these attacks are simply a pretext upon which to oppose Judge Alito’s nomination. His critics’ real fear is that he will refuse to rubber-stamp the agenda advanced by liberal interest groups. Make no mistake, they want Judge Alito – and the Supreme Court – to undermine marriage, religious expression, and protection of the unborn.

I do not know how Judge Alito will ultimately rule when confronted with difficult questions of law – and neither do my colleagues – because Judge Alito has rightly refused to prejudge cases that may come before him. But we can all take comfort in the principles that will guide his approach – respect for the Constitution and the rule of law – a commitment to hear all sides of an argument with an open-mind – impartiality and fairness to all parties, big or small, powerful or powerless.

Judge Alito’s judicial record and Senate testimony demonstrate an unwavering dedication to these principles. His colleagues on the bench and in the Justice Department, his clerks, and so many others who know him well, have testified that Samuel Alito is a man who will approach his job without bias. Like John Roberts, Samuel Alito understands that a Supreme Court justice should apply the law without regard to his personal views. I am confident that Judge Alito will bring this approach to the Court.

Mr. President, there is no question that confirmation hearings can be long, stressful, and exhausting – not only for the nominees but for their families and friends as well. But in earlier days, a nominee with Samuel Alito’s intellect, qualifications, and integrity would have been confirmed with overwhelming support. Indeed, the other side has not publicly ruled out the possibility of an attempted filibuster. I fear that this precedent will have a chilling effect – keeping our best and brightest from entering public service.

The responsibility of the United States Senate to give advice and consent to a Supreme Court nominee is among the most significant given to us. It is vital to our government’s constitutional structure that the Senate discharge its duty by giving a Supreme Court nominee an up or down vote. And each Senator has ample resources upon which to make such a decision here.

Judge Alito has a judicial record far surpassing that which has customarily been available to us when considering a nominee for the highest court in the land. He also has answered more questions during the course of his hearing than any Supreme Court nominee in recent memory. If any question existed about Samuel Alito’s integrity, judicial temperament, or qualifications for the Supreme Court, it was put to rest before the Judiciary Committee. I would ask that my fellow Senators therefore vote to confirm Samuel Alito as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.