Wednesday, November 23, 2005

No Girls Allowed

In the treehouse of the boys, you know. It seems that Samuel Alito felt a little this way when he was in college. According to the Nation magazine:

Campus newspapers aren't generally known for making waves inside the Beltway. Recently, however, the Daily Princetonian published a story that merits attention from senators gearing up for the confirmation hearings of Samuel Alito, George W. Bush's nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. As Chanakya Sethi reported in a November 18 article for the paper, in 1985 Princeton graduate and conservative Republican Alito sought to impress his colleagues in the Reagan Administration, where he was applying to become deputy assistant attorney general, by touting his membership in an organization called Concerned Alumni of Princeton.

Launched in 1972, the year Alito graduated, CAP had an innocuous-sounding name that disguised a less benign agenda, which included preventing women and minorities from entering an institution that had long been a bastion of white male privilege. In a 1973 article in Prospect, a magazine CAP published, Shelby Cullom Davis, one of its founders, harked back to the days when a gathering of Princeton alumni consisted of "a body of men, relatively homogeneous in interests and backgrounds." Lamented Cullom Davis: "I cannot envisage a similar happening in the future with an undergraduate student population of approximately 40% women and minorities, such as the Administration has proposed." Another article published that same year bemoaned the fact that "the makeup of the Princeton student body has changed drastically for the worse" in recent years--Princeton had begun admitting women in 1969--and wondered aloud what might happen if the university adopted a "sex-blind" policy "removing limits on the number of women." In an unsuccessful effort to forestall this frightening development, the executive committee of CAP published a statement in December 1973 that affirmed unequivocally, "Concerned Alumni of Princeton opposes adoption of a sex-blind admission policy."

It is quite possible that Alito belonged to CAP because of its other conservative goals, that he wasn't very deeply involved in its activities and that he didn't support the views expressed in the articles quoted above. But such views clearly didn't make him resign his membership or even feel ashamed of it.

Digging up things from thirty years ago seems a little silly but may be necessary if we ever want to know the exact colors of Alito's wingnut stripes. At a minimum, I'd like to hear Alito's responses to questions about his CAP membership.