[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1993, Book I)]
[June 14, 1993]
[Pages 842-844]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks Announcing the Nomination of Ruth Bader Ginsburg To Be a Supreme 
Court Associate Justice
June 14, 1993

    The President. Please be seated. I wish you all a good afternoon, 
and I thank the Members of the Congress and other interested Americans 
who are here.
    In just a few days when the Supreme Court concludes its term, 
Justice Byron White will begin a new chapter in his long and productive 
life. He has served the Court as he has lived, with distinction, 
intelligence, and honor. And he retires from public service with the 
deep gratitude of all the American people.
    Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution empowers the 
President to select a nominee to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court of 
the United States. This responsibility is one of the most significant 
duties assigned to the President by the Constitution. A Supreme Court 
Justice has life tenure, unlike the President, and along with his or her 
colleagues decides the most significant questions of our time and shapes 
the continuing contours of our liberty.
    I care a lot about this responsibility, not only because I am a 
lawyer but because I used to teach constitutional law and I served my 
State as attorney general. I know well how the Supreme Court affects the 
lives of all Americans personally and deeply. I know clearly that a 
Supreme Court Justice should have the heart and spirit, the talent and 
discipline, the knowledge, common sense, and wisdom to translate the 
hopes of the American people, as presented in the cases before it, into 
an enduring body of constitutional law, constitutional law that will 
preserve our most cherished values that are enshrined in that 
Constitution and, at the same time, enable the American people to move 
    That is what I promised the American people in a Justice when I ran 
for President, and I believe it is a promise that I am delivering on 
today. After careful reflection, I am proud to nominate for Associate 
Justice of the Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the United 
States Court of Appeals for the District of Co-

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lumbia. I will send her name to the Senate to fill the vacancy created 
by Justice White's retirement.
    As I told Judge Ginsburg last night when I called to ask her to 
accept the nomination, I decided on her for three reasons. First, in her 
years on the bench she has genuinely distinguished herself as one of our 
Nation's best judges, progressive in outlook, wise in judgment, balanced 
and fair in her opinions. Second, over the course of a lifetime, in her 
pioneering work in behalf of the women of this country, she has compiled 
a truly historic record of achievement in the finest traditions of 
American law and citizenship. And finally, I believe that in the years 
ahead she will be able to be a force for consensus-building on the 
Supreme Court, just as she has been on the Court of Appeals, so that our 
judges can become an instrument of our common unity in the expression of 
their fidelity to the Constitution.
    Judge Ginsburg received her undergraduate degree from Cornell. She 
attended both Harvard and Columbia Law Schools and served on the law 
reviews of both institutions, the first woman to have earned this 
distinction. She was a law clerk to a Federal judge, a law professor at 
Rutgers and Columbia Law Schools. She argued six landmark cases on 
behalf of women before the United States Supreme Court and, happily, won 
five out of six. For the past 13 years she has served on the United 
States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the second highest 
court in our country, where her work has brought her national acclaim 
and on which she was able to amass a record that caused a national legal 
journal in 1991 to name her as one of the Nation's leading centrist 
    In the months and years ahead, the country will have the opportunity 
to get to know much more about Ruth Ginsburg's achievements, decency, 
humanity, and fairness. People will find, as I have, that this nominee 
is a person of immense character. Quite simply, what's in her record 
speaks volumes about what is in her heart. Throughout her life she has 
repeatedly stood for the individual, the person less well-off, the 
outsider in society, and has given those people greater hope by telling 
them that they have a place in our legal system, by giving them a sense 
that the Constitution and the laws protect all the American people, not 
simply the powerful. Judge Ginsburg has also proven herself to be a 
healer, what attorneys call a moderate. Time and again, her moral 
imagination has cooled the fires of her colleagues' discord, ensuring 
that the right of jurists to dissent ennobles the law without entangling 
the court.
    The announcement of this vacancy brought forth a unique outpouring 
of support for distinguished Americans on Judge Ginsburg's behalf. What 
caused that outpouring is the essential quality of the judge herself: 
her deep respect for others and her willingness to subvert self-interest 
to the interest of our people and their institutions.
    In one of her own writings about what it is like to be a Justice, 
Judge Ginsburg quotes Justice Louis Brandeis, who once said, ``The 
Supreme Court is not a place for solo performers.'' If this is a time 
for consensus-building on the Court, and I believe it is, Judge Ginsburg 
will be an able and effective architect of that effort.
    It is important to me that Judge Ginsburg came to her views and 
attitudes by doing, not merely by reading and studying. Despite her 
enormous ability and academic achievements, she could not get a job with 
a law firm in the early 1960's because she was a woman and the mother of 
a small child. Having experienced discrimination, she devoted the next 
20 years of her career to fighting it and making this country a better 
place for our wives, our mothers, our sisters, and our daughters. She 
herself argued and won many of the women's rights cases before the 
Supreme Court in the 1970's. Many admirers of her work say that she is 
to the women's movement what former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood 
Marshall was to the movement for the rights of African-Americans. I can 
think of no greater compliment to bestow on an American lawyer. And she 
has done all of this and a lot of other things as well by raising a 
family with her husband, Marty, whom she married 39 years ago as a very 
young woman. Together they had two children, Jane and James, and they 
now have two grandchildren. Hers is a remarkable record of distinction 
and achievement, both professional and personal.
    During the selection process, we reviewed the qualifications of more 
than 40 potential nominees. It was a long, exhaustive search. And during 
that time we identified several wonderful Americans whom I think could 
be outstanding nominees to the Supreme Court in the future. Among the 
best were the Secretary of the Inte-

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rior, Bruce Babbitt, whose strong legal background as Arizona's attorney 
general and recent work balancing the competing interests of 
environmentalists and others in the very difficult issues affecting the 
American West made him a highly qualified candidate for the Court. And I 
had the unusual experience, something unique to me, of being flooded 
with calls all across America from Babbitt admirers who pleaded with me 
not to put him on the Court and take him away from the Interior 
Department. I also carefully considered the chief judge of the first 
circuit, Judge Stephen Breyer of Boston, a man whose character, 
confidence, and legal scholarship impressed me very greatly. I believe 
he has a very major role to play in public life. I believe he is 
superbly qualified to be on the Court. And I think either one of these 
candidates, as well as the handful of others whom I closely considered, 
may well find themselves in that position someday in the future.
    Let me say in closing that Ruth Bader Ginsburg cannot be called a 
liberal or a conservative; she has proved herself too thoughtful for 
such labels. As she herself put it in one of her articles, and I quote, 
``The greatest figures of the American judiciary have been independent 
thinking individuals with open but not empty minds; individuals willing 
to listen and to learn. They have exhibited a readiness to reexamine 
their own premises, liberal or conservative, as thoroughly as those of 
others.'' That, I believe, describes Judge Ginsburg. And those, I too 
believe, are the qualities of a great Justice.
    If, as I believe, the measure of a person's values can best be 
measured by examining the life the person lives, then Judge Ginsburg's 
values are the very ones that represent the best in America. I am proud 
to nominate this pathbreaking attorney, advocate, and judge to be the 
107th Justice to the United States Supreme Court.

[At this point, Judge Ginsburg expressed her appreciation to the 
President and discussed her background and her view of the position.]

    Q. The withdrawal of the Guinier nomination, sir, and your apparent 
focus on Judge Breyer and your turn, late, it seems, to Judge Ginsburg 
may have created an impression, perhaps unfair, of a certain zig-zag 
quality in the decision-making process here. I wonder, sir, if you could 
kind of walk us through it and perhaps disabuse us of any notion we 
might have along those lines. Thank you.
    The President. I have long since given up the thought that I could 
disabuse some of you of turning any substantive decision into anything 
but political process. How you could ask a question like that after the 
statement she just made is beyond me.
    Goodbye. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 2:07 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White