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Alito to address SMC grads

Kelly Meehan | Monday, March 5, 2007

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito will deliver the 2007 Saint Mary’s commencement address, College officials announced Friday.

“It is an honor and a privilege to welcome a United States Supreme Court Justice to Saint Mary’s College,” College President Carol Ann Mooney said in a statement Friday.

Alito was nominated to the Supreme Court by President George W. Bush and was sworn in on Jan. 31, 2006, after previously serving as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit – a position he was appointed to by President George H. Bush in 1990.

Alito has also held many high-profile positions, including Assistant to Solicitor General Rex E. Lee, Deputy Assistant to Attorney General Edwin Meese and U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.

Mooney recently worked as a committee member with Alito on the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure – an experience that allowed her to develop a friendship with Alito and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Executive Assistant to the President Susan Dampeer said.

Dampeer said Mooney sent a letter to Alito asking him to speak at the 2007 commencement ceremony – an invitation he cordially accepted.

The usual commencement speaker nomination process allows members of the College community to submit ideas, which are researched by Dampeer and reviewed by the academic council and Board of Trustees, Dampeer said.

Alito, who is the 11th Catholic to serve on the Supreme Court and the fifth on the current Court, will attend the College’s Baccalaureate dinner and reception on May 18 before addressing the graduates and their guests at the May 19 ceremony in the Court of LeMans at noon.

Dampeer said the College works to “get someone prominent who would deliver a memorable message to the students and their families.”

Like many students, senior Bridget Gorman was enthusiastic about the announcement of a well-known speaker. However, she expressed concern that the male judge might not relate as well to the female student body.

“I think it is exciting that such a big name is speaking, but I am a little bummed it is not a woman,” she said.

Dampeer said throughout the years there has been an equal mix of male and female speakers, and she said she thinks the judge’s message will be inspirational.

Senior Grace Guebert said she was impressed by the selection, but wished a Saint Mary’s alumna was giving the address.

“It might be nice to hear from someone with a connection to Saint Mary’s, but I am not disheartened by the choice,” she said.

Gorman said she was also impressed by the selection, which she said “shows how much pull Saint Mary’s really has.”

Alito, a New Jersey native, graduated from Princeton University in 1972 before attending Yale Law School. He was editor of the Yale Law Journal and graduated in 1975.