Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Senator Leahy and members of the committee.
Let me begin by thank Senators Lugar and Warner and Bayh for their warm and generous introductions. And let me reiterate my thanks to the president for nominating me.
I'm humbled by his confidence and, if confirmed, I will do everything I can to be worthy of the high trust he has placed in me.
Let me also thank you, Mr. Chairman, and the members of the committee for the many courtesies you've extended to me and my family over the past eight weeks.
I'm particularly grateful that members have been so accommodating in meeting with me personally. I have found those meetings very useful in better understanding the concerns of the committee as the committee undertakes its constitutional responsibility of advice and consent.
I know that I would not be here today were it not for the sacrifices and help over the years of my family, who you met earlier today, friends, mentors, teachers and colleagues - many of whom are here today.
Last week one of those mentors and friends, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, was laid to rest. I talked last week with the nurses who helped care for him over the past year, and I was glad to hear from them that he was not a particularly good patient. He chafed at the limitations they tried to impose.
His dedication to duty over the past year was an inspiration to me and, I know, to many others.
I will miss him.
My personal appreciation that I owe a great debt to others reinforces my view that a certain humility should characterize the judicial role.
Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules; they apply them.
The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules.
But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire.
Judges have to have the humility to recognize that they operate within a system of precedent, shaped by other judges equally striving to live up to the judicial oath.
And judges have to have the modesty to be open in the decisional process to the considered views of their colleagues on the bench.