Stuff I think you should know

Friday, February 03, 2006

From Senator Mel Martinez

Thank you for contacting me regarding the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. I appreciate hearing from you and would like to respond to your concerns.

The position of Supreme Court justice is one of the highest and most respected in the land. The decisions of this Court resonate at the very foundations of the beliefs upon which our nation is built. In Judge Alito, I believe President Bush chose an individual with impeccable academic credentials, an extensive background as a lawyer and jurist, and seasoned experienced in handling arguments before the United States Supreme Court.

Judge Alito has been well received by my predecessors in the Senate on each of his previous confirmations. He was unanimously confirmed in both of his prior appearances before the United States Senate, both as a nominee for United States Attorney for New Jersey and as a nominee to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. During his 15 years as a United States Circuit Judge, Judge Alito demonstrated the intelligence and judicial temperament required of this important office.
The American Bar Association unanimously gave Judge Alito its highest possible rating, calling him “well qualified” for the position of associate justice. The evaluation of "well qualified" is reserved for only those found to merit the Standing Committee's strongest affirmative endorsement.

The president has the right to select a nominee of his choosing for Supreme Court openings, and the role of the Senate is to advise and consent on the nomination. In this role, we have a great constitutional responsibility to ensure a strong and qualified judiciary. We must guarantee, insomuch as is possible, that the nominee picked to fill this vacancy is of the highest intellect, integrity, and character and that he or she comes to the process with no personal ideological agenda.

After meeting with Judge Alito and after listening to his testimony before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, I know that Judge Alito is a humble and dispassionate judge with a deep understanding of the law and a modest view of his judicial role in the governance of our nation. I am persuaded that Judge Alito will look to established precedents, be respectful of the doctrine of stare decisis, and use the Constitution and the law as his guideposts – as opposed to any personal or political agenda.

There are those that are troubled by what they perceive as Judge Alito not siding with the "little guy" when judging cases. As someone who fought in court for 25 years – usually for the "little guy," I understand the importance of having an impartial judge who will look at the facts and the law to reach a fair and just verdict, not a judge who will have a predetermined leaning for one side or another of a case. If the law and the facts happen to be on the side of the "little guy," the "little guy" should prevail. If the law and the facts happen to be on the side of the "big guy," then our system of justice demands that the "big guy" should prevail.

I love the analogy that Chief Justice Roberts used. In selecting a justice to the Supreme Court, he said we were looking for an umpire. We are not looking for a pitcher or a batter – we're looking for the umpire – the guy who will call the balls and strikes fairly and impartially to all litigants before the court.

Judge Alito fulfills all of these requirements, and I am confident that he will make an exceptional justice. On January 31, 2006, I proudly joined 57 of my senate colleagues in supporting the confirmation of Samuel Alito to be Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was sworn into office later that day.

Again, thank you for sharing your views with me. If you have any additional questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me. In addition, for more information about issues and activities important to Florida, please sign up for my weekly newsletter at

Mel MartinezUnited States Senator


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