July 7, 1981
The President. Ladies and gentlemen, I have a statement to make. And then following that statement, if there are any questions you might have, I shall refer you to the Attorney General.
As President of the United States, I have the honor and the privilege to pick thousands of appointees for positions in Federal Government. Each is important and deserves a great deal of care for each individual called upon make his or her contribution, often at personal sacrifice, to shaping the policy of the Nation. Thus each has an obligation to you, in varying degrees, has an impact on your life.
In addition, as President, I have the privilege to make a certain number of nominations which have a more lasting influence on our lives, for they are the lifetime appointments of those men and women called upon to serve in the judiciary in our Federal district courts and courts of appeals. These individuals dispense justice and provide for us these most cherished guarantees of protections of our criminal and civil laws. But, without doubt, the most awesome appointment is a guarantee to us of so many things, because it is a President -- as a President, I can make an appointment to the United States Supreme Court.
Those who sit in the Supreme Court interpret the laws of our land and truly do leave their footprints on the sands of time. Long after the policies of Presidents and Senators and Congressmen of any given era may have passed from public memory, they'll be remembered.
After very careful review and consideration, I have made the decision as to my nominee to fill the vacancy on the United States Supreme Court created by the resignation of Justice Stewart. Since I am aware of the great amount of speculation about this appointment, I want to share this very important decision with you as soon as possible.
Needless to say, most of the speculation has centered on the question of whether I would consider a woman to fill this first vacancy. As the press has accurately pointed out, during my campaign for the Presidency I made a commitment that one of my first appointments to the Supreme Court vacancy would be the most qualified woman that I could possibly find.
Now, this is not to say that I would appoint a woman merely to do so. That would not be fair to women nor to future generations of all Americans whose lives are so deeply affected by decisions of the Court. Rather, I pledged to appoint a woman who meets the very high standards that I demand of all court appointees. I have identified such a person.
So today, I'm pleased to announce that upon completion of all the necessary checks by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, I will send to the Senate the nomination of Judge Sandra Day O'Connor of Arizona Court of Appeals for confirmation as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
She is truly a person for all seasons, possessing those unique qualities of temperament, fairness, intellectual capacity, and devotion to the public good which have characterized the 101 brethren who have preceded her. I commend her to you, and I urge the Senate's swift bipartisan confirmation so that as soon as possible she may take her seat on the Court and her place in history.
Reporter. Do you agree with her position on abortion, Mr. President?
The President. I said that I was going to turn over all questions to the Attorney General here and let him answer the questions.
Q. But the right-to-life people object, and we just wonder if -- --
The President. All those questions the Attorney General is prepared to answer.
Q. But, Mr. President, you have such a firm position on that. Can you give us your feelings about her position on that?
The President. I am completely satisfied.
Q. On her right-to-life position?
The President. Yes.
Q. And did you interview her personally?
The President. Yes.
Note: The President spoke at 10:46 a.m. to reporters assembled in the Briefing Room at the White House. His remarks were broadcast live on radio and television.
The Office of the Press Secretary also released a transcript of Attorney General William French Smith's question-and-answer session with the reporters.
Later in the day, Deputy Press Secretary Larry Speakes announced that the President and Judge O'Connor had met in the Oval Office on July 1. Also attending the meeting were the Attorney General and members of the White House staff.