[JURIST] Wire services are reporting that President Bush will nominate Judge Samuel Alito [official profile; US News profile; SCOTUSblog review of notable opinions] of the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals to fill the US Supreme Court seat left vacant by retiring justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Alito would be Bush's second choice for the spot after his first nominee, Harriet Miers [JURIST news archive], withdrew her name from consideration last week.
6:39 AM ET – Republican sources say Bush will officially announce the nomination at 8 AM. AP now has more.
8:33 AM ET – Announcing the nomination, President Bush called Alito "one of the most accomplished and respected judges in America," and emphasizing Alito's longtime service on the bench said that Alito "now has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years." AP has more.
9:05 AM ET – Bush also highlighted Alito's experience as a Justice Department official and federal prosecutor in his announcement of the nomination:
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 a — 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. …
Judge Alito's reputation has only grown over the span of his service. He has participated in thousands of appeals and authored hundreds of opinions. This record reveals a thoughtful judge who considers the legal matter — marriage carefully and applies the law in a principled fashion. He has a deep understanding of the proper role of judges in our society. He understands that judges are to interpret the laws, not to impose their preferences or priorities on the people.
Bush also emphasized that Alito was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate when nominated to serve as US Attorney for the District of New Jersey and again when nominated to serve on the Third Circuit. Accepting the nomination, Alito said:
The Supreme Court is an institution that I have long held in reverence. During my 29 years as a public servant, I've had the opportunity to view the Supreme Court from a variety of perspectives — as an attorney in the Solicitor General's Office, arguing and briefing cases before the Supreme Court, as a federal prosecutor, and most recently for the last 15 years as a judge of the Court of Appeals. During all of that time, my appreciation of the vital role that the Supreme Court plays in our constitutional system has greatly deepened.
My most recent visit to the Supreme Court building was on a very different and a very sad occasion: It was on the occasion of the funeral of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. And as I approached the Supreme Court building with a group of other federal judges, I was struck by the same sense of awe that I had felt back in 1982, not because of the imposing and beautiful building in which the Supreme Court is housed, but because of what the building, and, more importantly, the institutions stand for — our dedication as a free and open society to liberty and opportunity, and, as it says above the entrance to the Supreme Court, "equal justice under law."
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.
Read the full text of both President Bush's and Alito's remarks.
10:48 AM ET – Recorded video of the nomination press conference is now available from the White House. Also available is a White House summary of Alito's qualifications to serve as an Associate US Supreme Court Justice.