In our great democracy, the Supreme Court is the guardian of our constitutional freedoms and the protector of our founding promise of equal justice under the law.
Over the past five years I've spoken clearly to the American people about the qualities I look for in a Supreme Court justice. A justice must be a person of accomplishment and sound legal judgment. A justice must be a person of fairness and unparalleled integrity. And a justice must strictly apply the Constitution and laws of the United States, not legislate from the bench.
This summer, I nominated an individual to the high court who embodies all these characteristics. And this morning, our nation can be proud when John Roberts opens a new Supreme Court session as the 17th chief justice of the United States.
It is now my duty to select a nominee to fill the seat that will be left vacant by the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Once again, I considered a wide variety of distinguished Americans from different walks of life.
Once again we consulted with Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate; received good advice from more than 80 senators. And once again, one person stood out as exceptionally well-suited to sit on the highest court of our nation.
This morning, I'm proud to announce that I'm nominating Harriet Ellen Miers to serve as associate justice of the Supreme Court.
For the past five years, Harriet Miers has served in critical roles in our nation's government, including one of the most important legal positions in the country, White House counsel. She has devoted her life to the rule of law and the cause of justice. She will be an outstanding addition to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Harriet was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. She attended public schools. When illness struck her family during her freshman year in college, Harriet went to work to help pay for her own education. She went on to receive a bachelor's degree in mathematics and a law degree from Southern Methodist University.
Over the course of a distinguished legal career, Harriet has earned the respect and admiration of her fellow attorneys. She has record of achievement in the law, as well as experience as an elected member of the Dallas City Council.
She served at high levels of both state and federal government.
Before state and federal courts, she had tried cases and argued appeals that covered a broad range of matters.
She's been a leader in the American Bar Association and has been recognized by the National Law Journal as one of the most powerful attorneys in America.
Harriet's greatest inspiration was her mother, who taught her the difference between right and wrong and instilled in Harriet the conviction that she could do anything she set her mind to.
Inspired by that confidence, Harriet became a pioneer in the field of law, breaking down barriers to women that remain even after a generation -- remain a generation after President Reagan appointed Justice O'Connor to the Supreme Court.
Harriet was the first woman to be hired at one of Dallas' top law firms, the first woman to become president of that firm, the first woman to lead a large law firm in the state of Texas.
Harriet also became the first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association and the first woman elected president of the State Bar of Texas.
In recognition of her achievements paving the way for women lawyers, Harriet's colleagues in Texas have honored her with numerous awards, most recently the Sandra Day O'Connor Award for Professional Excellence.
Harriet has built a reputation for fairness and integrity.
When I came to office as the governor of Texas, the lottery commission needed a leader of unquestioned integrity. I chose Harriet because I knew she would earn the confidence of the people of Texas. The Dallas Morning News said that Harriet insisted on a system that was fair and honest. She delivered results.
Harriet has also earned a reputation for her deep compassion and abiding sense of duty. In Texas, she made it her mission to support better legal representation for the poor and underserved. As president of the Dallas bar, she called on her fellow lawyers to volunteer and staff free neighborhood clinics.
She led by example. She put in long hours of pro bono work. Harriet Miers has given generously of her time and talent by serving as a leader with more than a dozen community groups and charities, including the Young Women's Christian Association, Childcare Dallas, Goodwill Industries, Exodus Ministries, Meals on Wheels and the Legal Aid Society.
Harriet's life has been characterized by service to others. And she will bring that same passion for service to the Supreme Court of the United States.
I've given a lot of thought to the kind of people who should serve on the federal judiciary. I've come to agree with the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who wrote about the importance of having judges who are drawn from a wide diversity of professional backgrounds.
Justice Rehnquist himself came to the Supreme Court without prior experience on the bench, as did more than 35 other men, including Byron White.
And I'm proud to nominate an outstanding woman who brings a similar record of achievement in private practice and public service.
Under the Constitution, Harriet's nomination now goes before the United States Senate for confirmation. The American people expect Harriet's hearings to be handled with the same respect and civility that characterized the last three Supreme Court confirmations -- those of Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg.
In its consideration of Chief Justice Roberts' nomination, the Senate made it clear that a well-qualified nominee committed to strictly interpret the law can be confirmed promptly and by a large, bipartisan majority.
As the new chief justice said at his swearing in last week, "The Senate vote affirmed the bedrock principle that judging is different from politics."
I believe the senators of both parties will find that Harriet Miers' talent, experience and judicial philosophy make her a superb choice to safeguard the constitutional liberties and equality of all Americans.
Harriet Miers will strictly interpret our Constitution and laws. She will not legislate from the bench.
I ask the Senate to review her qualifications thoroughly and fairly and to vote on her nomination promptly.
This morning I, again, thank Justice O'Connor for her 24 years of service on the Supreme Court -- including some additional time that she had not planned on.
In selecting a nominee, I sought to find an American of grace, judgment and unwavering devotion to the Constitution and laws of our country. Harriet Miers is just such a person.
I've known Harriet for more than a decade. I know her heart. I know her character. I know that Harriet's mother is proud of her today. And I know her father would be proud of her, too.
I'm confident that Harriet Miers will add to the wisdom and character of our judiciary when she is confirmed as the 110th justice of the Supreme Court.
Harriet, thank you for agreeing to serve. Congratulations.