May 10, 2010 — The White House, Washington DC
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. I am honored and I am humbled by this nomination and by the confidence you have shown in me.
During the last year as I have served as Solicitor General, my longstanding appreciation for the Supreme Court’s role in our constitutional democracy has become ever deeper and richer. The Court is an extraordinary institution in the work it does and in the work it can do for the American people by advancing the tenets of our Constitution, by upholding the rule of law, and by enabling all Americans, regardless of their background or their beliefs, to get a fair hearing and an equal chance at justice.
And within that extraordinary institution, Justice Stevens has played a particularly distinguished and exemplary role. It is, therefore, a special honor to be nominated to fill his seat.
I have felt blessed to represent the United States before the Supreme Court, to walk into the highest Court in this country when it is deciding its most important cases, cases that have an impact on so many people’s lives. And to represent the United States there is the most thrilling and the most humbling task a lawyer can perform.
I’ve been fortunate to have been supported in all the work I’ve done as Solicitor General by a remarkable group of lawyers and staff, many of whom are here today. They exemplify professionalism, public service and integrity. And I am grateful for all that they have taught me.
My professional life has been marked by great good fortune. I clerked for a judge, Abner Mikva, who represents the best in public service, and for a Justice, Thurgood Marshall, who did more to promote justice over the course of his legal career than did any lawyer in his lifetime.
I have had the opportunity to serve under two remarkable Presidents who have devoted themselves to lifting the lives of others and to have inspired a great many more to do the same.
I had the privilege of leading one of the world’s great law schools and of working there to bring people together and to help ensure that they and the school were making the largest possible contribution to the public good, both in this country and around the world. I am proud of what all of us accomplished there.
And through most of my professional life, I’ve had the simple joy of teaching — of trying to communicate to students why I so love the law not just because it’s challenging and endlessly interesting — although it certainly is that — but because law matters; because it keeps us safe; because it protects our most fundamental rights and freedoms; and because it is the foundation of our democracy.
I’m thankful to my brothers and other family and friends for coming to Washington to be with me here today. And much more, I am thankful for all of their support and loyalty and love, not just on this day but always.
If this day has just a touch of sadness in it for me, it is because my parents aren’t here to share it. They were both, as the President said, the children of immigrants and the first in their families to go to college. My father was the kind of lawyer who used his skills and training to represent everyday people and to improve a community. My mother was a proud public schoolteacher, as are my two brothers — the kind of teachers whom students remember for the rest of their lives. My parents’ lives and their memory remind me every day of the impact public service can have, and I pray every day that I live up to the example they set.
Mr. President, I look forward to working with the Senate in the next stage of this process. And I thank you again, Mr. President, for this honor of a lifetime. Thank you so much.