- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2006

From the outset, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. has sought to draw a stark distinction between his blue-collar upbringing in New Jersey and the Ivy League background of those around him.

“And after I graduated from high school, I went a full 12 miles down the road, but really to a different world, when I entered Princeton University,” he told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, many of whom have Ivy League backgrounds. “A generation earlier, I think that somebody from my background probably would not have felt fully comfortable at a college like Princeton, but by the time I graduated from high school, things had changed.”

Not wanting the point to be missed, Judge Alito went even further to distinguish himself from the hip crowd on the campus during the late 1960s.

“It was a time of turmoil at colleges and universities, and I saw some very smart people and very privileged people behaving irresponsibly,” he said in his opening statement Monday. “And I couldn’t help making a contrast between some of the worst of what I saw on campus and the good sense and the decency of the people back in my own community.”

That tactic became particularly useful yesterday when Judge Alito tried turning back a Democratic attack on his membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton, a group Democrats said has been rebuked for opposing the admission of women and minorities at the university.

He said he had no recollection of associating with the group, but if he had, he said, it would have been because the group also opposed the expulsion of the ROTC program from the university campus.

“The attitude seemed to be that the military was a bad institution, and that Princeton was too good for the military, and that Princeton would somehow be sullied if people in uniform were walking about the campus,” said Judge Alito, who had been in Princeton’s ROTC program. “That was the issue that bothered me.”

Democrats said the nominee’s defense was not believable.

“That’s like saying I don’t remember subscribing to Playboy, but if I did, I’m sure it was for the articles,” said one staffer to a key Democrat on the committee.

Democrats may have been skeptical of Judge Alito’s response, but several panel members were eager to associate themselves with Judge Alito’s humble background, even those who did not go to Ivy League schools.

“I didn’t even like Princeton,” said Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Delaware Democrat. “No, I mean I really didn’t like Princeton. Yeah, I was an Irish Catholic kid who thought it hadn’t changed.”

Not to be outdone, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, pondered the “eating clubs” that pass as fraternities at Princeton.

“Now, people like me are not even sure what an eating club is,” he said. “But it sure as heck does not sound like a cafeteria.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide