Date: January 12, 2006
Senator: Witness - Phillips
SPECTER: Thank you, Professor.
Our next witness is Mr. Carter Phillips, one of the premier appellate lawyers in the country. He has handled some 47 cases before the Supreme Court of the United States, some of those as assistant to former Solicitor General Rex Lee. He's a graduate of Northwestern School of Law, a clerk for Chief Justice Warren Berger and rated as one of the 100 best lawyers in America by the National Law Journal.
At your hourly rate, Mr. Phillips, thank you for joining us, and how much does five minutes cost?
PHILLIPS: Well, I won't answer that question, but I will tell you that the law firm has taken a hit today.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. Often times, it strikes me that baseball metaphors tend to be used at these hearings, but it at least impresses me that perhaps a tennis metaphor is more appropriate at this point.
Based on the testimony of Judge Alito in the last two-and-a-half days and the extraordinarily eloquent testimony of the Third Circuit judges in the last hour or so, it would strike me that we ought to be at the point of "game, set and match." Because it seems to me that there can be no serious question about either the qualifications on ability or ethics or any other standard that this committee would want to use in reviewing the qualifications of Judge Alito to become a Supreme Court Justice.
You have my written testimony. I'm not inclined to repeat it at this point. One thing I have learned as an appellate advocate is if you think you're ahead on points, you do well to sit down and shut up. So all I'm going to do is simply recount for you my own experiences with Judge Alito when we were in the Solicitor General's Office, not because I think they add all that much, but I do think they debunk the notion that somehow Judge Alito has long been an ideologue of any sort.
The judge and I met when we both interviewed with Judge McCree, who was President Carter's solicitor general. We were interviewing for a job as an assistant to the solicitor general. We had applied to that position prior to the election. Neither of us knew which direction that election was going to come out. We were seeking that position not because we had any kind of an agenda to fill, but solely because each of us hoped to get a very prestigious position.
Now, as it happened in that first meeting, Judge Alito and I happened to get seated together by ourselves, when all of the other members of the Solicitor General's Office went off to another table. And we had what I think is fairly described as at least a little bit of an uncomfortable conversation, because we assumed we were competing for exactly the same job, and had a very interesting exchange of views about our backgrounds and our experiences, he being an existing assistant U.S. attorney with an extraordinary amount of experience as an appellate lawyer, I being a former law clerk and, at that time, an assistant professor of law.
But we built a great friendship based on that conversation and the fact that we both ended up in the Solicitor General's Office. But what struck me is that whether or not the solicitor general had been Wade McCree or whether as it turned out the solicitor general was Rex Lee, our service to the United States would have been precisely the same. The only other thing I would say in that regard is that during the three-plus years that I served with Judge Alito in that office, I had an opportunity to talk with him almost every day.
And in that capacity, I learned an enormous amount from him about both his compassion and his intellect and his open-mindedness and his enthusiasm to assist all of the lawyers in that office. He was a great lawyer, he was a tremendous oral advocate. He went on, obviously, to a very distinguished career. While I have my own opinions about what he's accomplished on the Third Circuit, it seems to me I cannot add to the eloquence of what's already been said by the judges of that court. I would simply urge this committee to confirm this justice.