Pringle Testifies in Support of Judge Alito at Confirmation Hearings

Friedman Kaplan partner Katherine L. Pringle, who served as a law clerk to Third Circuit Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. in 1993-94, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 13 in support of Judge Alito's nomination to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

In her testimony, Pringle said she learned in her year with Judge Alito that "his approach to judging is not about personal ideology or ambition, but about hard work and devotion to law and justice." She told the Judiciary Committee, "I learned that Judge Alito reaches his decisions by working through cases from the bottom up, not the top down. . . . Judge Alito taught me to try to ignore my personal predispositions and to come to each case with an open mind. He taught me to work carefully through an analysis of the facts of the case and the legal precedents, and to try to find the resolution that flowed from that analysis. Judge Alito consistently applied this bottom-up approach."

Pringle stated that "Judge Alito is interested in, and respectful of, differing points of view," and that he "approaches his job with personal humility and a great respect for the institution of the courts. What I saw was a person cognizant of the limited role assigned to him by the Constitution to interpret the law as established by written law and prior precedent. Judge Alito did not, in my experience, ever treat a case as a platform for a personal agenda or ambition. Rather, his decisions are limited to the issue at hand. They demonstrate an effort to interpret honestly, and faithfully apply, the law to the parties that seek justice before him."

Pringle was one of 51 former Alito law clerks who signed a letter in November to Senate leaders, urging Judge Alito's confirmation to the seat currently held by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. In that letter, the clerks noted that "[w]e collectively were involved in thousands of cases, and it never once appeared to us that Judge Alito had pre-judged a case or ruled based on political ideology. To the contrary, Judge Alito meticulously and diligently applied controlling legal authority to the facts of each case after full and careful consideration of all relevant legal arguments."

Pringle appeared before the Judiciary Committee on a panel that included both supporters and opponents of Judge Alito's nomination. Her testimony was followed by statements from Representatives Charles A. Gonzalez (D-TX) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Jack White, a lawyer at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Reginald M. Turner, Jr., president of the National Bar Association, and Theodore Shaw, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.