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January 11, 2006
Senate Blogger Forum: Kennedy (McCarthy) Redux

I'm not going to live-blog the bloviations from Ted Kennedy in great detail, but I have to add something about Kennedy's pulling out sentences from magazines and newspapers and demanding to know if Alito had ever read them. Isn't this the same kind of treatment that Democrats complain that the PATRIOT Act would do to Americans -- hold them responsible for their reading material? None of this has anything to do with Alito's record as a judge, but because he mentioned the Prospect and National Review as magazines he may have read, now he's being held responsible for every word they have ever published. I read the New York Times, and I hardly agree with anything they write.

Now Kennedy wants to subpoena the records of CAP -- and Specter is getting irate about the attitude of the Senator. Someone needs to explain to Kennedy that subpoenaing the records of a long-defunct group because one disagrees with its political views sets up a very bad precedent. Shall we have subpoenaed all the records of the ACLU during the Ginsburg confirmations? This stinks of Joe McCarthy, another pernicious force who spent far too much time in the Senate soaking up deference while providing nothing but shameful attacks on people who have done nothing to deserve them except give their lives for public service.

Massachussetts should be ashamed of themselves for returning this vacuous boob to represent them in the highest levels of the government.

UPDATE: The transcript from the Kennedy exchange with Alito is in the extended entry.

KENNEDY: So, I want to ask a few things that I hope can clear this up. You have no memory of being a member. You graduated from Princeton in 1972, the same year CAP was founded.

KENNEDY: You called CAP a conservative alumni group. It also published a publication called Prospect, which includes articles by CAP members about the policies that the organization promoted. You're familiar with that?

ALITO: I don't recall seeing the magazine. I might have seen...

KENNEDY: Did you know that they had a magazine?

ALITO: I've learned of that in recent weeks.

KENNEDY: So a 1983 Prospect essay titled In Defense of Elitism, stated, quote, 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 the government vouchsafe them the right to bear children.

Did you read that article?

FEINSTEIN: Finish the last line.

KENNEDY: Finish the last line -- is, and homosexuals are...

FEINSTEIN: No, And now here come women.

KENNEDY: If the senator will let me just...

FEINSTEIN: Yes, I will...


KENNEDY: Can I get two more minutes from my friend from...


Just to continue along. I apologize, Judge. Did you read this article?

ALITO: I feel confident that I didn't. I'm not familiar with the article, and I don't know the context in which those things were said. But they are antithetical...

KENNEDY: Well, could you think of any context that they could be...

ALITO: Hard to imagine. If that's what anybody was endorsing, I disagree with all of that. I would never endorse it. I never have endorsed it. Had I thought that that's what this organization stood for I would never associate myself with it in any way.

KENNEDY: The June '84 edition of Prospect magazine contains a short article on AIDS. I know that we've come a long way since then in our understanding of the disease, but even for that time the insensitivity of statements in this article are breathtaking. It announces that a team of doctors has found the AIDS virus in the rhesus monkeys was similar to the virus occurring in human beings.

KENNEDY: And the article then goes on with this terrible statement: Now that the scientists must find humans, or rather homosexuals, to submit themselves to experimental treatment. Perhaps Princeton's Gay Alliance may want to hold an election.

You didn't read that article?

ALITO: I feel confident that I didn't, Senator, because I would not have anything to do with statements of that nature.

KENNEDY: In 1973, a year after you graduated, and during your first year at Yale Law School, former Senator Bill Bradley very publicly disassociated himself with CAP because of its right-wing views and unsupported allegations about the university. His letter of resignation was published in The Prospect; garnered much attention on campus and among the alumni. Were you aware of that at the time that you listed the organization in your application?

ALITO: I don't think I was aware of that until recent weeks when I was informed of it.

KENNEDY: And in 1974, an alumni panel including now-Senator Frist unanimously concluded that CAP had presented a distorted, narrow, hostile view of the university. Were you aware of that at the time of the job application?

ALITO: I was not aware of that until very recently.

KENNEDY: In 1980, the New York Times article about the coeducation of Princeton, CAP is described as an organization against the admittance of women. In 1980, you were working as an assistant U.S. attorney in Trenton, New Jersey.

KENNEDY: Did you read the New York Times? Did you see this article?

ALITO: I don't believe that I saw the article.

KENNEDY: And did you read a letter from CAP mailed in 1984 -- this is the year before you put CAP on your application -- to every living alumni -- to every living alumni, so I assume you received it -- which declared: Princeton is no longer the university you knew it to be.

As evidence, among other reasons, it cited the fact that admission rates for African-Americans and Hispanics were on the rise, while those of alumni children were failing and Princeton's president at a time urged that the then all-male eating clubs to admit females.

And in December 1984, President William Bowen responded by sending his own letter. This is the president of Princeton responded by sending his own letter to all of the alumni in which he called CAP's letter callous and outrageous.

This letter was the subject of a January 1985 Wall Street Journal editorial congratulating President Bowen for engaging his critics in a free and open debate.

This would be right about the time that you told Senator Kyl you probably joined the organization.

Did you receive the Bowen letter or did you read the Wall Street Journal, which was pretty familiar reading for certainly a lot of people that were in the Reagan administration?

ALITO: Senator, I've testified to everything that I can recall relating to this, and I do not recall knowing any of these things about the organization. And many of the things that you've mentioned are things that I have always stood against. In your description of the letter that prompted President Bowen's letter, there's talk about returning the Princeton that used to be. There's talk about eating clubs, about all-male eating clubs. There's talk about the admission of alumni children. There's opposition to opening up the admissions process. None of that is something that I would identify with.

I was not the son of an alumnus. I was not a member of an eating club. I was not a member of an eating facility that was selective. I was not a member of an all-male eating facility. And I would not have identified with any of that.

If I had received any information at any point regarding any of the matters that you have referred to in relation to this organization, I would never have had anything to do with it.

KENNEDY: You think these are conservative views?

ALITO: Senator, whatever I knew about this organization in 1985, I identified as conservative. I don't identify those views as conservative.

What I do recall as an issue that bothered me in relation to the Princeton administration as an undergraduate and continuing into the 1980s was their treatment of the ROTC unit and their general attitude toward the military, which they did not treat with the respect that I thought was deserving. The idea of that it was beneath Princeton to have an ROTC unit on campus was an offensive idea to me.

KENNEDY: Just moving on, you mentioned -- and I only have a few minutes left -- you joined CAP because of your concern about keeping ROTC on campus. ROTC was a fairly contentious issue on Princeton campus in the early 1970s. The program was slated to be terminated in 1970, when you were an undergraduate. By 1973, one year after you graduated, ROTC had returned to campus and was no longer a source of debate.

And from what I can tell, by 1985, it was basically a dead issue. In fact, my staff reviewed the editions of Prospects from 1983 to 1985 and can only find one mention of ROTC. And it appears in a 1985 issue released for homecoming that year that says: ROTC is popular once again. Here's the Prospect, 1985: ROTC is popular again. This is just about the time that you were submitting this organization in your job application.

ALITO: Senator, if I...


ALITO: I'm sorry.

KENNEDY: But the -- briefly, please.

ALITO: It's my recollection that this was a continuing source of controversy. There were people on the campus -- members of the faculty, as I recall -- who wanted the unit removed from the campus. There was certainly controversy about whether students could get credit for courses, which I believe was a military requirement for the maintenance of the unit.

There was controversy, as I recall, about the status of the instructors; whether they could be given any kind of a status in relation to the faculty. I don't know the exact dates, but it's my recollection that this was a continuing source of controversy.

KENNEDY: Well, Mr. Chairman, my time is running out. I had wanted to just wind up on a few more brief questions on this. But I have to say that Judge Alito -- that his explanations about the membership in this, sort of, radical group, and why you listed it on your job application, are extremely troubling. And, in fact, I don't think that they add up.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 11, 2006 11:29 AM

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