Following are President Bush's remarks yesterday in the Rose Garden on the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, as transcribed by CQ Transcriptions and distributed by the Associated Press:
Good morning. A short time ago I had a warm conversation with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has decided to retire from the Supreme Court of the United States. America is proud of Justice O'Connor's distinguished service, and I'm proud to know her. Today, she has the gratitude of her fellow citizens, and she and John and their family have our respect and good wishes.
Sandra Day O'Connor joined the nation's highest court in 1981 as the first woman ever appointed to that position. Throughout her tenure she has been a discerning and conscientious judge, and a public servant of complete integrity. Justice O'Connor's great intellect, wisdom and personal decency have won her the esteem of her colleagues and our country.
Under the Constitution, I am responsible for nominating a successor to Justice O'Connor. I take this responsibility seriously. I will be deliberate and thorough in this process. I have directed my staff, in cooperation with the Department of Justice, to compile information and recommend for my review potential nominees who meet a high standard of legal ability, judgment and integrity and who will faithfully interpret the Constitution and laws of our country.
As well, I will continue to consult, as will my advisers, with members of the United States Senate. The nation deserves, and I will select, a Supreme Court justice that Americans can be proud of. The nation also deserves a dignified process of confirmation in the United States Senate, characterized by fair treatment, a fair hearing and a fair vote. I will choose a nominee in a timely manner so that the hearing and the vote can be completed before the new Supreme Court term begins.
Today, however, is a day to honor the contributions of a fine citizen and a great patriot. Many years ago, Sandra Day O'Connor chose the path of public service, and she served with distinction as a legislator and a judge in Arizona before joining the Supreme Court. When President Ronald Reagan appointed Justice O'Connor 24 years ago, Americans had high expectations of her -- and she has surpassed those expectations in the performance of her duties.
This great lady, born in El Paso, Texas, rose above the obstacles of an earlier time and became one of the most admired Americans of our time. She leaves an outstanding record of service to the United States and our nation is deeply grateful.