A ceremony was held at the White House Wednesday honoring the newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court. Samuel Alito was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday, just hours before President Bush delivered his State of the Union Address.
Perhaps the biggest round of applause heard on Capitol Hill Tuesday night occurred before President Bush even entered the House chamber. It happened when Samuel Alito, seen in public for the first time in the robe of a Supreme Court justice, walked into the room.
Even the president took notice.
"Yesterday, the United State Senate confirmed Sam Alito as the 110th justice of the Supreme Court of the United States," said Mr. Bush. "And last night, he looked pretty good in that black robe sitting there!"
He was confirmed after a long and sometimes contentious confirmation process. It was difficult because Samuel Alito, a staunch conservative, was picked to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor who was seen as a crucial moderate on the court.
The official swearing-in ceremony for the new justice was small and private and occurred shortly after the Senate vote with Chief Justice John Roberts administering the oath at the Supreme Court building. They repeated the ceremony at the White House so that all those who played a role in getting Samuel Alito confirmed could witness the event.
ROBERTS: "I, Samuel A. Alito, Jr., do solemnly swear?"
ALITO: "I, Samuel A. Alito, Jr., do solemnly swear?"
President Bush hailed the newest member of the Supreme Court as a man of character and legal brilliance. Justice Alito spoke of the weight of responsibility felt by all who sit on the highest court in the land.
"The many letters that I have received over the past three months have reminded me how much the people of the United States revere our Constitution and our form of government and how much they look to the Supreme Court of the United States to protect our form of government and our freedoms," said Mr. Alito.
He said that is an awesome responsibility, and pledged to do everything in his power to live up to the trust placed in him by the American people.