As we noted earlier, Judge Alito was once a member of Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP), which was openly hostile to the admission of women, and increased enrollment of minorities, at Princeton. One of CAP’s founders fondly reminisced about the days when Princeton was “a body of men, relatively homogenous in interests and backgrounds.” An article in its magazine entitled “In Defense of Elitism” argued that “People nowadays just don’t seem to know their place. . . . Everywhere one turns blacks and hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they’re black and hispanic, the physically handicapped are trying to gain equal representation in professional sports, and homosexuals are demanding that government vouchsafe them the right to bear children.”
Alito proudly listed his CAP membership on a job application in 1985, when he thought it would help him get a promotion in the Reagan Administration. Moreover, although other prominent Princeton alumni like Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and former Senator Bill Bradley denounced CAP, Alito has never done so. Now that an affiliation with CAP is hardly a plus, however, he says he has “no recollection” of being a CAP member – that’s what he said in his responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s questionnaire last month. Alito’s membership in an organization whose central purpose was to ensure that Princeton remained a white, male institution raises serious concerns about his commitment to advancing opportunities for women and minorities – and his supposed memory lapse about his membership raises questions about his credibility as well.
Now it turns out that there are extensive CAP records – its publications, minutes of meetings, etc. -- that have been kept from public view. These are the records of William A. Rusher, former publisher of the National Review, who was one of CAP’s founders. Several boxes of his records are maintained at the Library of Congress, and could shed light on the group’s activities and on Alito’s involvement in it. But release of Rusher’s records requires Rusher’s agreement, and he has so far declined to authorize their release, even to the Congressional Research Service. Senator Edward Kennedy therefore wrote to Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter just before the holidays, asking Sen. Specter to formally request Rusher’s cooperation, on behalf of the Committee. Kennedy argues, “Judge Alito's assertion that he cannot recall anything about his controversial involvement in CAP, requires us to find other ways of fulfilling our constitutional responsibility to get at the facts. The Rusher papers provide a readily available means of doing so. Certainly we do not want to leave the Committee, the Senate, and the nation open to an unwelcome surprise when the papers eventually become public after Mr. Rusher's death.”
The Senate and the public clearly should be given access to these records, and – with or without the Rusher records -- Alito’s affiliation with CAP should receive close scrutiny at the hearing next week.