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Public Papers - 1990 - July

Remarks to the Youth Leadership Coalition


Thank you very, very much. It's good to see you guys. I think this is the darnedest group we've had to the White House. [Laughter] I'll tell you, I was looking at the list walking over and a wide array of interests from all over the country. The matrix is youth. And then I guess another possible matrix might be love of country, determination to lead. And so, I wanted to come over and salute you, each and every one of you. And it's great to be here.

I was talking to Lisa, and she said that when she told one of you that the most powerful man in America would be stopping by to say hello, the wise guy said, ``Yeah, when is Arnold Schwarzenegger coming in?'' [Laughter]

I was not too thrilled with the unceremonious way that we interrupted Lew Crampton here. But he's doing a great job over there. And I hope you'll come back onto the scene after I blow this place. [Laughter] And, of course, Reg Walton, the Judge, is doing a superb job not just here in Washington but all across the country, as Bill Bennett's number two in this all-out fight against drugs. And I want to thank all of you in this room who have actively engaged yourselves in this struggle one way or another.

You know, what I wanted to do is come over and just say a word about a recent happening to this group that has the optimism and the energy and the vision to shape our country into the 21st century. And that's a big challenge, incidentally. I also might say it's a tremendous responsibility because one of our greatest obligations ought to be to leave a legacy of excellence to the children and grandchildren. But what I really wanted to mention was, in that context, my decision to nominate Judge David Souter to the Supreme Court.

I'm sure a lot of you have been reading about that. I view this as one of the most critical, crucial decisions that any President can make. And I'll tell you what was on my mind; and it was this nation's absolutely crucial demand for dedication, intelligence, and integrity in its leaders.

And you know, nominating a Supreme Court Justice is a responsibility. I felt that to live up to that responsibility, that trust that the American placed in me back in election time, I had to ensure that my nominee would bring these kinds of values of commitment to the service of our country. And I'm convinced that Judge Souter, the man whom I have named, will do exactly that.

You know, America's going to change tremendously over the coming decades, and technology may really make this world unrecognizable from today's standards. So, we can't even imagine the variety and the complexity of the decisions that the next Supreme Court is going to be called on to make. And that's why we can't choose a Justice based on some simplistic -- they call it -- litmus test on one issue or another. It's a much broader responsibility, and I tried to have that in mind in this nomination.

We have to choose the next Supreme Court Justice on the basis of his inner core as a human being; on the strength of character that informs his decisions; and then, I would also say, the depth of his intellect and his caring and his thoughtfulness and fairness and his faithfulness to the Constitution.

You know, you are the ones, obviously, who are going to be inheriting this country; and so, I want to make you a promise and a pledge. And I do this with total confidence and candor. Judge Souter will serve us all fairly and wisely and well as our generation turns the reigns of the administration over to yours; and he will bring to this country experience, informed impartiality, and an admirable moral compass that will guide us through the changes and crises that lie ahead.

I am very happy with the way this choice has been received across the country -- really in a nonpartisan manner. I'm proud of him, and I know that when the country gets to know him, the country will be very proud of David Souter as well.

So, I wanted to come and put that in focus, not asking anything of you in terms of activism on this. The matter is now going to be before the United States Senate. Everyone here who has studied our system knows that the Senate has a responsibility to advise and to consent. And now they'll be taking a look at it in hearings that start before the Judiciary Committee in mid-September. But it's moving in the proper direction. I probably won't have too much more to say about it. But knowing this group and looking at whence you've cometh and seeing the degrees of excellence that you all have, I wanted to at least come over and put this in proper perspective for all of you.

I'm delighted to have had a chance to pop in. I hope you're finding these briefings and these seminars worthwhile. I don't want to sound gratuitous, but I am one who has great confidence in the young people of this country. And I'm just delighted that you took the time, what for some I'm sure was a nice summer vacation, to come to hot Washington and to hear from some of our very top people.

But thank you for coming, and bless all of you. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:51 p.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building. In his remarks, he referred to Elisabeth Battaglia, Executive Assistant for the Office of Public Relations at the White House; Lewis S.W. Crampton, Associate Administrator of the Office of Communications and Public Affairs at the Environmental Protection Agency; and William J. Bennett and Reggie B. Walton, Director and Associate Director of National Drug Control Policy. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

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