Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Smoking Letter?

From the Kennedy for Senate staff, here's the letter Kennedy sent to Arlen Specter back in December of 2005 that Specter says he never received. Based on the info Kennedy provides, one can see why he's concerned about Alito's membership in "Concerned Alumni of Princeton."
December 22, 2005

The Honorable Arlen Specter
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Mr. Chairman:

As you know, when Judge Samuel Alito applied for his job in the Office of Legal Counsel in the Meese Justice Department in November 1985, he submitted a list of his memberships and other activities to impress Attorney General Meese and Assistant Attorney General Charles Cooper with his enthusiastic “philosophical commitment” to their particular constitutional, legal, and political point of view.

Among the organizations he listed was “Concerned Alumni of Princeton” (CAP), an organization created in 1972, the year Judge Alito graduated. The organization was described in the press at the time and in its own literature as opposed to the increasing number of women, African Americans and Hispanics at the university. The organization also published articles critical of the rights of the disabled.

Our former Senate colleague Bill Bradley, a graduate of the university in1965, initially joined the advisory board for the group’s magazine, “Prospect,” but publicly separated himself from the group in 1973, because he felt it promoted a “right wing view” rather than the “balanced view” he had been led to believe it would present. In 1975 an official report by a committee of Princeton alumni that included William Frist, now Senator Frist, concluded that CAP’s “distorted, narrow and hostile view of the University” had “misinformed and even alarmed many alumni” and “undoubtedly generated adverse national publicity.”

The heated debate in the University community and in the press continued throughout the life of the organization from 1972 through 1986. For example, Senator Bradley’s resignation letter was published in “Prospect” in September 1973, a New Yorker article covered the controversy in 1977, and the Princeton Alumni Weekly carried articles on the group as late as April and June of 1986. “Prospect” was originally mailed to CAP members and contributors, and beginning in 1974 to all graduates listed in the Alumni Directory. The Alumni Weekly was mailed to all living Princeton graduates.

It appears from recent press interviews that Judge Alito became involved with CAP through one of CAP’s founders early in CAP’s history. In spite of the prominence he gave to CAP in his 1985 application to the Justice Department and its well-known and controversial activities, Judge Alito’s participation in CAP was not disclosed in the public documents relating to his 1987 nomination as U.S. Attorney for New Jersey or his 1990 nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The subject was not discussed at his 1990 hearing. In fact, Senator Bradley, based on a recommendation Judge Alito had obtained from the judge for whom he had served as a law clerk, introduced and endorsed Judge Alito “one hundred percent” for the Third Circuit.

In view of CAP’s troubling opposition to equal educational opportunity for women, minorities, and the disabled, it is important for the Committee to learn more about Judge Alito’s involvement in this organization. However, even after his recollection was refreshed by a “document I recently reviewed” (presumably his 1985 job application to the Justice Department), Judge Alito’s response to our recent questionnaire states that he cannot remember anything about his membership in CAP beyond what is stated in that document. Unless a further reading of the many documents relating to this issue restores his memory of the matter, we are unlikely to obtain any further information from him on this potentially important subject.

Clearly, to understand fully the importance of the partial facts known from secondary sources, and to avoid the prospect of a delay in our schedule to obtain the full story, we need answers to a number of questions before our hearings:

- Was Judge Alito a member of or contributor to CAP, a participant in any of its meetings or on its mailing list, (1) in 1973, when Senator Bradley’s resignation letter was published in Prospect; (2) in 1974, when the controversy was first aired in the New York Times; (3) in 1977, when a lengthy article on CAP appeared in the New Yorker; or (4) in 1986 when the debate over CAP continued in the pages of the Alumni Weekly?

- What was the exact nature of Judge Alito’s participation in CAP and his contacts or correspondence with its officers and staff during the years 1972-87?

- Judge Alito lists other Princeton alumni activities in his 1990 and 2005 Committee forms, indicating that he has remained an active and interested alumnus throughout the relevant period. Did he ever personally express a view either publicly or privately on the CAP controversy or the positions advocated by CAP, as many alumni did?

- Was anyone connected with CAP contacted regarding Judge Alito’s involvement with CAP, either in connection with his New Jersey Bar application (1975), or in connection with his federal job applications and security clearances (1977, 1981, and 1985), his U.S. Attorney and Judicial nominations (1987, 1990), or his possible selection for the Supreme Court (2001, 2005)?

- At any time before Senator Bradley appeared before our Committee in 1990 to introduce then-U.S. Attorney Alito to the Committee and to endorse his Third Circuit nomination, did Judge Alito write, say or do anything documenting his general attention to CAP news or his specific awareness that Senator Bradley had been a public critic of CAP?

- Did Judge Alito inform Senator Bradley that he had been a participant in CAP before requesting or allowing Senator Bradley to recommend his confirmation as a judge on the Third Circuit?

- During his 1987 or 1990 confirmation processes, did Judge Alito, the Justice Department (including the FBI), or the ABA provide the Committee with any information relating to Judge Alito’s membership in CAP?

- Would Senator Bradley’s unqualified endorsement of Judge Alito for the Third Circuit have been affected if he had known of Judge Alito’s involvement in CAP and his voluntary listing of his CAP membership in support of his selection as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General, the position which put him on track toward his later judicial appointment?

Answers to a large number of these questions are likely to be found in files in the possession of the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress as part of the “Papers of William A Rusher 1940-1989.” Mr. Rusher was Publisher of the National Review and an active founder and leader of CAP. According to the Library’s Register of that collection, at least four of its boxes (142, 143, 144, 145) contain the files of “Concerned Alumni of Princeton,” including clipping files, background information, correspondence and memoranda, financial records, fund-raising material, lists of supporters, minutes of meetings, issues and other items relating to “Prospect.” Box 46 also contains materials relating to T. Harding Jones, a founder of CAP and editor of “Prospect,” and a person who reportedly involved Judge Alito in CAP. There may also be other files with records of CAP leaders who were familiar with the nominee’s role.

The Congressional Research Service has attempted to gain access to these files, following its usual policy of not disclosing its requestor, but Mr. Rusher has refused to permit access unless he is told which member(s) or committee(s) are seeking it, and unless he can control the use of the materials released.

It is likely that a formal request for access directly from you on behalf of the Committee would be received with more cooperation than the CRS has received so far, and we urge you to make such a request as soon as possible. In view of the importance of the material and its intended use as part of an official Senate inquiry, the request should be for access to the documents without any restrictions on the Committee’s use of the information, unless he is aware of specific documents in those files that merit confidential treatment for a stated reason. The request should include the specified boxes and any other boxes containing materials relating to CAP, its activities, or personnel, including “Prospect.”

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.

As always, we thank you for your cooperation and leadership, and your commitment to making the confirmation process as thorough as possible.


Edward M. Kennedy

Arguably, the transmission of this letter through the Internet within moments of Senator Kennedy mentioning it on live television indicates that a stratagem was in place, but stratagems are part and parcel of politics. And the presence of politics in a judicial hearing doesn’t make the concerns expressed by Kennedy any less valid or crucial.

Alito is up for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in our land, and if he was a member of a misogynistic, racially biased alumni group, and used that membership to obtain a job in the Justice Department, I want to know about it.


  1. If my recollection is accurate, CAP was opposed to affirmative action for women and minorities, which isn't necessarily a misogynistic or racially biased viewpoint in and of itself. It looks to me like Kennedy (and maybe you) are more interested in smearing the guy because he's a Bush pick than anything else. Tossing out words like "misogynistic" is a bit beyond the pale.

    If you don't think he belongs on the court, let's hear some reasons that pertain either to his qualifications or judicial temperament.

  2. And rather than listening to someone like Ted Kennedy or left-wing special interest groups, I've done some digging and found that women actually belonged to CAP (perhaps they were bent on getting themselves removed from Princeton, but I doubt it).

    One female graduate of Princeton (but non-CAP member) writes the following (and I daresay she makes good points):

    "I am a woman who attended Princeton University [and graduated in 1974]...[C]oeducation began at Princeton in 1969. Concerned Alumni of Princeton was founded in 1972, when coeducation was already firmly established.

    I never considered joining CAP, but I know its members were more concerned about the perceived liberal bias of the faculty than about coeducation.

    [The] implication that Alito opposes equal opportunities for women because he was a member of CAP is unfounded. Alito should be judged on his qualifications as a judge, not whether he belonged to a conservative alumni group."

    Let's try to stay reasonable here. If there is one huge black eye in the U.S. political system it is the constant need (on both sides) to personally attack and tear down a person because of an ideological disagreement.


  3. (Clarification - Ronnie-Gail Emden wrote the portion of the above in quotation marks. The sentences starting with "Let's try to stay reasonable here" are my own.)

  4. Seriously, Scott, please quit playing neo-reindeer games here.

    I stated-I think quite clearly-that Kennedy's move was a political strategem. And I said I just want to know what the Rusher files say.

    And by the way, if you're going to post testimony here, would you please give us a reference so we can check on it ourselves?

  5. The Emden quote comes from a letter to the editor of the Oregonian on Dec. 9th.

    As for "neo" games, what's up with the constant need to apply pejorative labels to disagreement (i.e. neo-whatever, misogynist, etc.). Is this really what political discourse has been reduced to in this country?

    And are you implying that opposition to affirmative action constitutes "misogyny" or "racisms" per se?

  6. There's actually a pretty reasonable article about this in Slate:

  7. Meribeth6:03 AM

    The "oh gee, I forgot" defense doesn't wash. It makes me suspicious...and considering what the current gov'mint has done and is currently doing, suspicion is healthy. There may be nothing there, but why not have a close look?

    I don't think SCOTUS is the place for a man who may have had a history in an organization that worked to exclude any group which is not Powerful Privileged White Guy. It deserves a good look.

  8. I'm w/Meribeth. Alito's past deserves a closer look. Does he want all our uteruses to belong to him?

    What pisses me off, is the right-wings refusal to own its positions. If Alito wants to overturn Roe, he should say so, proudly, not hem and haw and hedge because the majority of Americans disagree. The "say anything to (insert goal)" is what's "beyond the pale."

    Alito should be more like Michele Malkin. Let all his real thoughts hang out. Michele's all for internment camps, segregation, and proudly says so. She's insane, but at least she stands by her convictions.

  9. Okay, Scott:

    I print the letter from Kennedy's office, then say that I'm certain the whole thing was a stratagem (i.e., cheap trick). But I also say that if Alito belonged to a misogynistic and bigoted club, and used that membership to get a job, I want to know about it. Wouldn't you? I used "misogynistic" and "bigoted" because I thought they sounded slightly more elevated than "sexist" and "racist."

    You come back and accuse me of wanting to smear Alito, something neocons tend to do any time someone questions or criticizes them.

    So I make a "neo-joke."

    And your reply indicates that you think I'm being mean and childish.

    I have no further comment in this regard.


    MB and Cap,

    Like you, I tend to think Alito is being less than candid, and am not at all thrilled at the prospect of him being in the SCOTUS.

  10. William Bollinger1:19 PM

    Well, lets face it. All our "leaders" get into office by lieing through their teeth. Like the old joke goes, "how do you tell when a politician lies?". Alito's lips are definitely a moving.

    Before Scott takes offence, Democrats do it too. We all beleive the lies we are comfortable with and vote against the ones we aren't. This whole Abramoff thing pretty much proves that. (R) says look at the (D)'s doing it. (D) says look at the (R)'s doing it. Both say it's "business as usual, nothing wrong with it" when caught. Little will get done though, because we keep electing the ones whose lies we like. Party politics is an open invitation to ethics violation because the interests of the party always take precidence over the country.

    Alito will tell the lies he needs to, and the Republican controlled Senate will rubber-stamp him no matter what he says, because a Republican president nominated him.

  11. Jeff - that was an interesting exchange between Arlen and Ted. We have an exchange between Bush and Kristol that may amuse you.

  12. Just arriving on this thread. In the past Scott Kinsey has shown me some fairly perceptive and open-minded views on various topics, but I do feel in this case he's displaying what I view as the "typical" Fascist mindset. "Our way or the highway" is not the best railroad management technique, Scott.

    As for Alito, he's a classic Bu$hCo apparatchik:

    He lies like a cheap Persian rug in a Moroccan bordello.

  13. Anonymous6:19 AM

    Oh, I bet there's good shit to scoop in boxes 142, 143, 144, 145! Been sitting there untouched for a long time, too. Spread the manure, I say!

    The harder they work at keeping a tight lid on things, the more they have to hide. You know darn well there's objectionable data in those boxes. It'll all come out ... in about 25 years.