On April 27, 1990, the day Samuel Alito was confirmed by the Senate for his post as a federal appeals court justice, liberal Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D.-N.J.) spoke in support of his nomination. I’ve pasted the transcript below from the Congressional Record.
Lautenberg (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 6%) has since retired and been re-elected to the Senate. Will he again aggressively support Judge Alito now that he’s been named to the Supreme Court?
STATEMENT ON THE NOMINATION OF SAMUEL ALITO
Mr. LAUTENBERG. Mr. President, I rise in support of the nomination of Samuel Alito, Jr. to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Sam Alito is an accomplished and distinguished lawyer. He has dedicated himself to Government service and he has excelled.
He is a graduate of Princeton University. He was a member of phi beta kappa. He attended the Yale Law School, where he contributed to the Law Journal.
He served in the Army Reserves after law school, and then worked briefly in private practice. He then clerked for Judge Leonard Garth, whom he would join on the third circuit.
Sam Alito has extensive experience as an appellate litigator. He served for almost 4 years as an assistant U.S. attorney in New Jersey. He went on to the prestigious office of the Solicitor General.
He served in the Office of Legal Counsel as a Deputy Assistant to the Attorney General. He then returned to New Jersey, as U.S. attorney in 1987. I supported his nomination for that position.
As Chief Federal Prosecutor for one of the largest districts in the country, he has led the effort to fight bigtime drug rings and organized crime. He has made environmental crimes a high priority.
He has the respect of the bar in our State. The ABA panel that reviewed his nomination rated him "well qualified."
Mr. President, I note for the Record that for virtually all of his professional career, Sam Alito has had just one client — the Government of the United States. He has represented his client with skill and integrity. He has been a strong and effective advocate.
As a judge, Sam Alito will have to make an important transition. He will have to shed the loyalties he’s had to the office he led. When the law and the facts demand it, he will need the strength to rule against the Government.
Mr. Alito was asked about this in the hearing on his nomination. He assured the committee and the Senate that he recognized the significance of the transition that lies before him, and that he would shed those loyalties and above all else, he would be guided by the law.
I believe Mr. Alito has the experience and the skills to be the kind of judge the public deserves — one who is impartial, thoughtful, and fair. I urge the Senate to confirm his nomination.
UPDATE: Lautenberg’s press secretary, Alex Formuzis, told me the senator was traveling in New Jersey this morning with Sen. Jon Corzine, who is running for governor, but Formuzis did have this to say:
"Those comments were made 15 years ago, and now he has a record from the bench. And that record needs to be looked at and dissected. Sen. Lautenberg intends to do that along with his colleagues. At this time, that’s all I can say."