Shifting Explanations from Alito Supporters

Alito can't remember being a member of reactionary alumni group, but Republican leaders claim to know why he joined

One of the documents released late last year from the National Archives was a 1985 memo from Samuel Alito, seeking a high level promotion in the Reagan Justice Department, in which he touted his political bona fides to his right-wing higher-ups. Among the evidence he offered was “I am…a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton, a conservative alumni group.”

Alumni and others familiar with the group’s overt hostility to Princeton's efforts to increase the numbers of women and students of color on campus were appalled that Alito would brag about his membership in such an organization more than ten years after he graduated. The group’s inflammatory rhetoric and divisive tactics were so reprehensible that it was condemned in a report of a special alumni affairs committee of the university’s Board of Trustees. The report was co-authored by alumnus and now-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and endorsed by the full board.

In his recent answers to the Senate Judiciary Committee's questionnaire, submitted under oath, Alito wrote that “a document I recently reviewed” – presumably his job application memo – indicated he was a CAP member. “Other than that document, I have no recollection of being a member, of attending meetings, or otherwise participating in the activities of the group.”

Now, after news reports have given Americans more information about CAP’s discriminatory goals and tactics, Alito’s surrogates have apparently come up with a new excuse: Alito joined CAP to protest Princeton’s treatment of ROTC during the Vietnam war. Senate staffers have told reporters that Alito might use the ROTC explanation. Senator Lindsey Graham referred to it in his opening statement, in a tactic that might be called pre-habilitating the witness.

Will Alito stick by his answer under oath that he cannot remember anything about his membership in CAP? Or will he explain the sudden appearance of an excuse that attempts to wrap his membership in CAP in the flag and the military? It seems that if you don’t like Judge Alito’s answer to questions about his record, you might want to stick around, because odds are it won’t be long until there’s a new and different answer.

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