In nominating Judge Sam Alito, President Bush hailed his record -- and said he has shown a "passionate commitment to the rule of law."
He's tough but fair, Bush said -- "one of the most accomplished and respected judges in America."
The president noted his long career in public service, including 15 years on the federal bench, and before that, various jobs as a prosecutor.
"He's scholarly, fair-minded and principled, and these qualities will serve our nation well on the highest court of the land."
President George H. W. Bush in 1990 appointed Alito, then 39 years old, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and the Senate confirmed the nomination unanimously.
The current President Bush said Judge Alito "now has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years."
President Bush urged the Senate to act promptly, so an up-or-down vote could be held before the end of the year.
Judge Alito said he was "deeply honored" by the nomination.
He said he has long held the Supreme Court "in reverence," and over his career, he's had the opportunity to view it from "a variety of perspectives" -- as an attorney, arguing before it; and most recently as a judge on the court of appeals.
Alito said he argued his first case before the Supreme Court in 1982. He said he was awed -- and relieved when Justice O'Connor, apparently sensing that he was a rookie, asked him an easy question to begin with.
"I was grateful to her on that happy occasion and I am particularly honored to be nominated for her seat."
Alito said he is mindful of the solemn responsibility that goes with service as a federal judge.
Federal judges, he said, "have the duty to interpret the Constitution and the laws faithfully and fairly to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans; and to do these things with care and restraint, always keeping in mind the limits of the role that the courts play in our constitutional system.
"And I pledge that if confirmed I will do everything within my power to fulfill that responsibility."
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