Thank you very much, Mr. President. I am deeply honored to be nominated to serve on the Supreme Court. And I am very grateful for the confidence that you have shown in me.
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.
I argued my first case before the Supreme Court in 1982, and I still vividly recall that day. I remember the sense of awe that I felt when I stepped up to the lectern, and I also remember the relief that I felt when Justice O'Connor, sensing, I think, that I was a rookie, made sure that first question that I was asked was a kind one.
I was grateful to her on that happy occasion, and I am particularly honored to be nominated for her seat.
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 institution 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.
I owe a great deal to many people who have taught me over the years about the law and about judging, to judges before whom I have appeared and to colleagues who have shown me, with their examples, what it means to be a fair and conscientious and temperate judge.
I also owe a great deal, of course, to the members of my family.
I wish that my father had lived to see this day. He was an extraordinary man who came to the United States as a young child and overcame many difficulties and made many sacrifices so that my sister and I would have opportunities that he did not enjoy.
As the president mentioned, my mother will be celebrating her 91st birthday next month. She was a pioneering and very dedicated public school teacher who inspired my sister and me with the love of learning.
My wife, Martha, has been a constant source of love and support for the past 20 years.
My children, Philip and Laura (ph), are the pride of my life. And they have made sure that being a judge has never gone to my head. They do that very well on a pretty much daily basis.
And my sister, Rosemary, has always been a great friend and an inspiration as a great lawyer and as a strong and independent person.
I look forward to working with the Senate in the confirmation process.
Mr. President, thank you once again for the confidence that you've shown in me and for honoring me with this nomination.