Campaign for the Supreme Court: Prepared Remarks of Senator John CornynSENATOR JOHN CORNYN
Judge Alito, I am very pleased to welcome you to the Committee.
We have also heard a bit today — and we will hear a great deal more as the hearings unfold — about the glowing testimonials from the people you have worked with, the people who know you best, whether liberal, moderate, or conservative. The judges on your court have praised you as a thoughtful and open-minded jurist, and we will hear more from them later this week.
The same is true of the dozens of law clerks you have worked with during your 15 years on the bench. Law clerks, of course, are the close confidants judges rely on to advise them on the cases they hear. You have hired law clerks from every political persuasion: Green Party, Democrat Party, even a clerk that went on to serve as a counsel to Senator John Kerry’s campaign for President. And every single one of these clerks says that you will make a terrific Supreme Court Justice, that you apply the law in a fair and even-handed manner, and that you bring no agenda to your work as a judge.
If qualifications, integrity, fairness, and open-mindedness were all that mattered in this process, you would be confirmed unanimously. But we know that is not how this process works.
We know that 22 Senators — including 5 on this Committee — voted against Chief Justice Roberts just a few months ago. We therefore know that you do not exactly come here today on a level playing field. I am reluctantly inclined to the view that you and any other nominee of this President for the Supreme Court start with no more than 13 votes in this Committee, and only 78 votes in the full Senate, with a solid, immovable, and unpersuadable block of at least 22 votes against you, no matter what you say, no matter what you do. That is unfortunate for you, but even worse for the Senate and its reputation as the world’s greatest deliberative body.
The question is why — with so many people from both sides of the aisle and across the ideological spectrum supporting your nomination — are liberal special interest groups and their allies devoting so much time and money to defeat your nomination? The answer, I’m afraid, is that there are a number of groups that do not want honest and fair-minded judges on the Supreme Court. Rather, they want judges who will impose their liberal agenda on the American people.
Judge Alito, these groups are trying to defeat your nomination because you will not support their liberal agenda. And the reason they oppose you is precisely why I support you. I want judges on the Supreme Court who will not use their position to impose a political agenda on the American people. I want judges on the Supreme Court who will respect the words and meaning of the Constitution, the laws enacted by Congress, and the laws enacted by state legislatures.
This does not mean that judges should always reach a conservative result. It means they should reach whatever result the people have directed in their Constitution and in their laws. Sometimes it will be conservative, sometimes liberal. But the point is that the meanings of the Constitution and other laws should not change unless the people change them. A Supreme Court appointment is not a roving commission to rewrite our laws however you and your colleagues see fit.
I will give you one example of an area where I believe our Supreme Court has been rewriting the Constitution for a very long time. It is an area that is very dear to me and to many others in this country. I am speaking of the ability of people of faith to express themselves in public.
There is no doubt where our Founding Fathers stood on this question. They believed that people of faith should be permitted to express themselves in public. They believed that this country was big enough and free enough to allow expression of an enormous variety of views and beliefs. Specifically, to my point, they believed that freedom of expression included religious views and beliefs, so long as the government did not force people to worship and remained neutral on which views and beliefs it agreed or disagreed with.
But this country got seriously off track with the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren. The Supreme Court now has gone so far as to limit the right of even private citizens to freely express their religious beliefs in public.
This is where you come in, Judge Alito. There is a great deal to like about your record on the Third Circuit, but one of the things I appreciate about is your record in religious freedom cases. In short, you get it. It is clear from your record that you understand that our Founding Fathers intended neutrality — not hostility — towards religion.
It is my sincere hope, Judge Alito, that you will be confirmed to the Supreme Court and that you will persuade your colleagues to reconsider their attitude towards religious expression and grant it the same freedom currently reserved for almost all other, non-religious speech. No wonder many in America believe that the Supreme Court seems more inclined to protect pornography than to protect religious expression. Most people in America do not believe that God is a dirty word. But the sad fact is the Supreme Court might have greater regard for it if it were.
Again, welcome to the Committee. And thank you for your continued willingness to serve our great nation.
Senator John Cornyn. "Campaign for the Supreme Court." prepared text of the statement delivered by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.). (January 9, 2006).
Senator John Cornyn, of San Antonio, is a Republican Senator for the state of Texas. He was sworn in to the U.S. Senate on December 2, 2002, succeeding Phil Gramm.
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