At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court this morning, Senator Ted Kennedy (D., Mass.) asked Judge Alito (again) about his involvement with a group called the Concerned Alumni of Princeton. The question hit close to home here at National Review, because Ted Kennedy requested that the committee go into executive session to discuss subpoenaing the private papers, stored at the Library of Congress, of William A. Rusher, former publisher of National Review. Rusher was a founding member of CAP.
Bill Rusher answered some questions from NRO Editor Kathryn Lopez this afternoon, shortly after he granted Senator Specter’s office access to his papers–papers that the New York Times has already been through. Reporter David Kirkpatrick concluded in November, after looking at the Rusher papers: “Those records and others at Mudd Library at Princeton give no indication that Judge Alito, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, was among the group’s major donors. He was not an active leader of the group, and two of his classmates who were involved and Mr. Rusher said they did not remember his playing a role.”
Kathryn Jean Lopez: What was your involvement in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton?
William A. Rusher: In or about 1972, I was asked to be on the board of the newly formed CAP. I remained on it for a few years, but am sure I left long before the organization closed down in the middle or late 1980s. My files on CAP went to the Library of Congress, along with my other files, in or about 1988 when I retired from National Review.
Lopez: What was Concerned Alumni of Princeton?
Rusher: CAP was exactly what its name implied: a group of alumni who were concerned over various liberal tendencies that had developed in the Princeton administration in recent years. Shelby Cullom Davis, the former ambassador to Switzerland, gave us the money that enabled us to send mailings to the alumni, etc. Naturally, the University administration wasn’t happy about our existence.
Lopez: Was it racist and or sexist? Anti-gay? Ted Kennedy read a pretty bad-sounding quote from its publication today.
Rusher: CAP was none of the things Senator Kennedy is smearing it as being: anti-black, etc. Since Alito apparently had next to no involvement with CAP, Kennedy is trying to give CAP the worst possible reputation, in the hope that some of that will rub off on Judge Alito.
Lopez: Do you for any reason regret your involvement with the group?
Rusher: My only regret is that CAP didn’t have a bigger effect on Princeton.
Lopez: As you know, Ted Kennedy has an interest in your papers about CAP. What might they reveal?
Rusher: I haven’t seen those files in 30 years, but I am sure there is nothing discreditable in them. Of course, Senator Kennedy can always hope.
Lopez: Do you know Samuel Alito? Do you remember him involved in CAP?
Rusher: I have no recollection of Samuel Alito at all. He certainly was not very heavily involved in CAP, if at all.
Lopez: Are you surprised that CAP has become such an issue in Alito’s hearings?
Rusher:I am surprised that Judge Alito’s opponents are so desperate.
Lopez: Are you still concerned about Princeton?
Rusher:I will always remember fondly the Princeton I knew, and regret what has happened to it. My old NR colleague Jim Burnham, who was a graduate of the Class of 1933 (or about then), once told me that Princeton had become “just another liberal joint,” and I’m afraid it’s true.