This afternoon President Bush met in the White House with Judge Alito’s former law clerks. I met with eight of Judge Alito’s law clerks during the confirmation hearings the week before last and wrote about them here, here, here, here, and here. I found the testimony of these former clerks on behalf of Judge Alito to be powerful and persuasive. President Bush’s remarks following his meeting with the former law clerks pick up the thread of their testimony that we followed here:
“Thank you all very much. Thank you all for being here. I just finished a meeting in the Oval Office with a group of distinguished lawyers, many of whom come from different backgrounds, and they’ve got a wide range of political views. They share two things in common: They all clerked for Judge Sam Alito; and they strongly support his nomination to be an associate justice to the Supreme Court.
“The relationship between a judge and a law clerk is extremely close. Each judge has only three or four clerks a year, and these clerks serve as the judge’s aides and advisors. They provide legal research, they discuss and debate pending cases, and they see firsthand how the judge arrives at decisions.
“These fine men and women with me today have worked side by side with Sam Alito, and they are uniquely qualified to assess what kind of Supreme Court Justice he would be. As the full Senate takes up Judge Alito’s nomination, it is important for the American people to hear what his former clerks say about this fine judge and his approach to the law.
“One of the clerks I met today who describes himself as a Democrat said this about Judge Alito: ‘He is meticulous in the way he goes about deciding cases. He’s meticulous in the way he goes about finding what the law is. I can’t think of better qualities for anyone to serve as a judge on the Supreme Court.’
“Another former clerk here today says this: ‘I am a Democrat who always voted Democrat, except when I vote for a Green candidate…but Judge Alito was not interested in the ideology of his clerks. He didn’t decide cases based on ideology.’
“Another former clerk who described himself as a proud member of the NAACP and the ACLU says, ‘After a year of working closely with the Judge on cases concerning a wide variety of legal issues, I left New Jersey not knowing Judge Alito’s personal beliefs on any of them.’
“Another former clerk who describes herself as a ‘left-leaning Democrat’ told the Senate this about Sam Alito: ‘He’s a man of great decency, integrity and character. I believe very strongly he deserves to be confirmed as the Court’s next associate justice.’
“Another of Judge Alito’s former clerks worked for Senator Kerry’s presidential campaign. She said this about Judge Alito: ‘I learned in my year with Judge Alito that his approach to judging is not about personal ideology or ambition, but about hard work and devotion to law and justice.’
“In case you were wondering, Judge Alito has also the support of Republican clerks. In fact, he has the strong support of all 54 of his former clerks, regardless of their political beliefs. Judge Alito has earned broad support from his fellow judges on the 3rd Circuit. Seven of them took the extraordinary step of testifying on his behalf before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Former Chief Judge Ed Becker, who sat with Judge Alito on more than 1,000 cases, said this about his colleague: ‘I have never seen a chink in the armor of his integrity, which I view as total. He is a real judge deciding each case on the facts and the law, not his personal views, whatever they may be.’
“Another colleague on the 3rd Circuit who was appointed by President Clinton said this about Judge Alito: ‘He is a fair-minded man, a modest man, a humble man, and he reveres the rule of law.’ The judge went on to say, ‘If confirmed, Judge Sam Alito will serve as a marvelous and distinguished associate justice.’
“All these brilliant legal minds are united in their strong support of Sam Alito. And in his confirmation hearings, the American people saw why. Judge Alito is open-minded and principled. He gives every case careful attention, and he makes decisions based on the merits. Judge Alito understands that the role of a judge is to interpret the law, not to advance a personal or political agenda. Judge Alito is a man of character and integrity. Judge Alito will bring to the Supreme Court a broad range of experience and accomplishment.
“Before he became a judge, Sam Alito served as a federal prosecutor, assistant to the Solicitor General, where he argued 12 cases before the Supreme Court; an attorney in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel; and a U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey