[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1993, Book I)]
[March 19, 1993]
[Page 323]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on the Retirement of Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White and an 
Exchange With Reporters
March 19, 1993

    The President. Let me say, as all of you know, I received a letter 
not long ago from Justice White expressing his intention to resign from 
the Court at the end of this term and saying that he wanted to give me 
this much notice so that hopefully I could announce my intention to 
nominate someone and all the hearings could be concluded in time to 
really prepare someone to serve at the beginning of the October term of 
the Court.
    I called Justice White just a few moments ago and had a fine 
conversation with him. I've known him for nearly 20 years, and I thanked 
him for his service to our country. He's had a truly remarkable life. 
And I appreciate the fact that he cared enough about the Court as an 
institution to offer me a significant period of time to deliberate and 
still to have plenty of time to have a nominee considered by the Senate 
and then confirmed well in advance of the beginning of the Court's next 
    So I will begin work on this tomorrow in earnest. And I will attempt 
to be faithful to my Constitutional duties and appoint a truly 
outstanding American in a timely fashion.

Potential Supreme Court Nominees

    Q. [Inaudible]--you once mentioned Governor Cuomo before.
    The President. I don't want to get into personalities now. This is 
Mr. Justice White's day. And as I said, I never will forget sitting in 
the Supreme Court as a young attorney general and having had him already 
tell me that the quality of representation by the States was pretty 
poor. And then I had worked very hard with a lawyer from my State who 
was making the argument, and he sent me a note, which I still have in my 
personal files 16 years later, saying that we were doing better. So 
that's what I'm going to try to do every day.
    Q. Do you have a long list of possible nominees?
    The President. No. The list may get longer; it may get shorter. I 
did not anticipate having the opportunity to make an appointment at this 
early stage, so we don't have a big bank of potential nominees. I'll go 
to work on it tomorrow. I don't want to discuss any individuals at this 
point. I will do my best to pick a truly outstanding person just as soon 
as I can.


    Q. [Inaudible]--is to get people out of Bosnia. Are you going to be 
able to comply with that request?
    The President. President Mitterrand and I talked the other day, and 
he told me he was going to give some helicopters, which, as you know, 
he's done. And this morning was the first I have been informed of that. 
So we're going to discuss that today and make a decision.


    Q. Is abortion a litmus test for a Supreme Court nominee? Is that 
the whole issue?
    The President. Now, the question as you ask it contains a thousand 
questions. And I wouldn't say no, and a thousand questions no. Do I 
believe that there is a constitutional right to privacy? Yes, I do.
    Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 9:55 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White 
House upon departure for Atlanta, GA. In his remarks, he referred to 
President Francois Mitterrand of France.