No One Is Above the Law, Alito Says

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito Monday told the Senate Judiciary Committee that no one in the U.S. is above or beneath the law. He also said he believes a judge's only obligation is to uphold the rule of law.

In his opening statement Monday, Alito recounted how he arrived at this point in his career to be nominated to serve on the highest court in the land.

"I'm here in part because of my experiences as a lawyer. I had the good fortune to begin my legal career as a law clerk for a judge who really epitomized open-mindedness and fairness. He read the record in detail on every single case that came before me," said Alito.

"He insisted on scrupulously following precedence - both the precedence of the Supreme Court and the decisions of his own court, the Third Circuit. He taught all of his law clerks that every case has to be decided on an individual basis, and he really didn't have much use for any grand theories," added Alito.

Alito described the difference between the role of lawyers and the role of judges.

"The role of a practicing attorney is to achieve a desirable result for the client in the particular case at hand, but a judge can't think that way. A judge can't have any agenda, a judge can't have any preferred outcome in any particular case, and a judge certainly doesn't have a client," said Alito.

"The judge's only obligation - and it's a solemn obligation - is to the rule of law. And what that means is that in every single case, the judge has to do what the law requires," added Alito.

A "good" judge, according to Alito, is one who develops "certain habits of mind" such as "delaying - reaching conclusions until everything has been considered."

"Good judges are always open to the possibility of changing their minds based on the next brief that they read or the next argument that's made by an attorney who's appearing before them or a comment that is made by a colleague during the conference on the case when the judges privately discuss the case," said Alito.

Alito credited his experience as an appellate judge as having given him "the opportunity to use whatever talent I have to serve my country by upholding the rule of law."

"And there is nothing more important for our republic than the rule of law. No person in this country - no matter how high or powerful - is above the law, and no person in this country is beneath the law," said Alito.

"Fifteen years ago, when I was sworn in as a judge on the court of appeals, I took an oath. I put my hand on the Bible, and I swore that I would administer justice, without respect to persons, that I would do equal right to the poor and to the rich and that I would carry out my duties under the Constitution and the laws of the United States," said Alito.

"And that is what I have tried to do to the very best of my ability for the past 15 years, and if I am confirmed, I pledge to you that that is what I would do on the Supreme Court," concluded Alito.

See Also:
Senate Judiciary Committee Begins Alito Hearings (Jan. 9, 2006)

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