Remarks on Signing the German-American Day Proclamation
thank you, President Jenninger, Ambassador Guenther
van Well, Senator Lugar, and distinguished guests. Some say this is
German-American Day. I don't know. Seeing the band here in costume, I'd say it
is Oktoberfest. [Laughter] As the President has told us, it was 304 years ago
this coming week that a small band of Mennonites disembarked from their ship,
Since that time, German-Americans have helped forge the ideals and dreams that have built our nation. It was a German-American, John Peter Zenger, who first fought for and established the tradition of freedom of the press on this continent. The Colonial Governor charged Zenger with libel, and Zenger's defense was that he had printed the truth. He won, and the principle he established lives to this day: that the press can and must be free to tell the truth.
and the opportunities that freedom brings have been enduring themes in the
German-American story. In 1830 one young German engineer wrote eloquently of
his yearning for freedom, in particular, the freedom to try new ideas and
pursue new dreams. He had seen the bureaucratic restrictions on commercial
it's why our people have made the sacrifices to build and maintain our military
strength in the face of the missiles and armies of the Warsaw Pact. In the last
6\1/2\ years, we've stood firmly together, and now, as a result,
agreement toward which
Now, though, let me say a brief word of purely domestic interest. As you know, I've nominated Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. I've been very clear about why I want Judge Bork on the high bench. Robert Bork believes that judges should interpret the law, not make it. And he believes that it's time the courts showed less compassion for criminals and more for the victims of crime. There have been a lot of misstatements spread around about Judge Bork and civil rights. It's time to set the record straight. Robert Bork has an outstanding record on civil rights. As Solicitor General, for example, he convinced the Supreme Court for the first time ever to extend the protection of Federal civil rights laws to purely private contracts. Those who've been distorting his record have said over and over he's going to turn back the clock on civil rights. It's amazing they can find a room big enough for them to get in front of the cameras -- their noses must be so long by now. [Laughter]
It's time to say a few words about the way the confirmation hearings have been conducted. Our Founding Fathers intended the courts to be above partisan politics. But in the last few weeks we've seen an attempt to turn the confirmation of a Justice into a partisan issue. No expense has been spared, and we all know the reason. A few special interests consider the courts their private preserve. Communities all over the Nation have seen how these special interests get through the courts what they can't get through the ballot box.
Now the special interests are determined to pack the Supreme Court and to distort the reputation of anyone who disagrees. Some say they're compromising and demeaning the judicial selection process. I hope we haven't come to a time when good men and women are afraid to accept nominations to the bench for fear of the kind of treatment we've seen the last few weeks.
is no longer a battle over whether the most qualified man nominated in a
century is confirmed to the Supreme Court. At stake here is the integrity and
independence of the American system of justice. So, I hope that before you
Forgive me for taking advantage of this -- well, there she is. [Laughter] Well, I'll bet you right now she's wondering if I put some sun block on my face before I came out. [Laughter] I did. [Laughter] She can't hear me.
Well, now to get back to the matter at hand, and that means there's a proclamation for me to sign.
Note: The President spoke at in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his opening remarks, he referred to West German President Philip Jenninger; Guenther van Well, West German Ambassador to the United States; and Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana. The President also referred to Mrs. Reagan, who watched the ceremony from a window in the Residence.