The Corner

Alito and Cap

There’s one quite reasonable explanation for Samuel Alito’s inclusion of his membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton in his 1985 job application. He was trying to move into a political appointment in the Reagan Justice Department but had never worked on a campaign and had no significant political activity to cite. Judging by the application, he was trying to make the best case for his conservative bona fides.

The application asked that the prospective appointee “Please indicate 1984 Reagan/Bush involvement or any previous Reagan/Bush campaign involvement.” Alito had nothing to say. “As a federal employee subject to the Hatch Act for nearly a decade, I have been unable to take a role in partisan politics,” he wrote. Then, in what appears to be a clear effort to show that he was on the GOP team, Alito wrote that he had made “modest political contributions” to Republicans, that he was a member of the Federalist Society and CAP, and that he had submitted articles to National Review and The American Spectator.

But Alito seems to remember none of it. This afternoon Sen. Biden asked him whether the simple explanation for his inclusion of CAP on the job application was that he was trying to impress the Republican political appointees at the Justice Department. Alito said again, as he has said before, “I don’t have a recollection of having anything to do with CAP.”

Judging from the November 27, 2005 New York Times report, the available records don’t reveal anything about Alito’s connection to CAP, and it appears the only reason Democrats are paying so much attention to a minor, tangential, non-disqualifying issue is that they have not been able to make much progress in any other areas of attack against Alito. If Democrats could charge that secret papers are being withheld by Republicans, and that those secret papers might reveal a shameful episode in Alito’s past, then they might be getting somewhere. But now, it appears that William Rusher has frustrated that hope by agreeing so readily to have the committee examine his papers. It looks like it’s back to Vanguard.

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