"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Alito Hearings - Day 3

Today’s big fireworks during Judge Samuel Alito’s nomination hearing came from Senator Ted Kennedy. Kennedy demanded a subpoena be issued for the papers of William Rusher, one of the founders the Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP), a group Alito had belonged to at one time.

Kennedy wanted the Senate Judiciary Committee to go into executive session to vote on issuing a subpoena and when committee chairman Senator Arlen Specter balked, Kennedy went nuts. Obviously Kennedy thought Republicans were holding out on the “smoking gun” that would destroy Alto’s nomination. So here was Kennedy riding in as the white knight to save the day for liberal Democrats.

Prior to his “request” Kennedy had read over-the top quotes from Prospect, CAP’s magazine, asking Alito after each if he remembered reading them. Alito said he had no recollection of ever reading the articles and made it clear he had always stood against the views contained in the quotes Kennedy recited. Kennedy taunted Alito: “You think these are conservative views?”

Alito’s responses led to Kennedy‘s disbelief that Alito had not read the controversial articles published in the Prospect or articles about the group in the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Apparently, Kennedy doesn’t read the Times either. A Times reporter had already reviewed the documents Kennedy wanted and had written the article From Alito's Past, a Window on Conservatives at Princeton this past November. The reporter concluded:

Mr. Morgan's memorandum and other records of Concerned Alumni are contained at the Library of Congress in the papers of William A. Rusher, a leader of the group and a former publisher of National Review.

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.
It all worked out that a subpoena was not needed and Kennedy's staffers were dispatched to the Library of Congress to review the records. Hopefully the staffers will discover the Prospect’s disclaimer: “The Appearance Of An Article In Prospect Does Not Necessarily Represent An Endorsement Of The Author's Beliefs By The Concerned Alumni Of Princeton.”

Last week we wrote:
Alito should be confirmed by the Senate without a problem, not that the Democrats won’t try to paint his confirmation as the beginning of the end to life in the United States as we know it. We’ve been watching old senate confirmations hearings lately on CSPAN and Democrats have been screaming the sky is falling during the questioning of each judge nominated by a Republican President.

The Democrats on the senate judiciary committee during the David Souter hearings were hysterical in their warnings. Civil rights would be returned to the dark days of the Jim Crow era and Roe was toast should Souter be confirmed to the lifetime appointment. We can only assume these theatrics are for the benefit of fund raising campaigns. The cast has essentially remained the same and the script varies little by nominee. Expect a rerun beginning next week.
Looks like we were right. Of course this time Democratic cast memebers managed to out do previous peformances - Mrs. Alito left the room in tears. The Political Teen has the video, including Senator Lindsey Graham apologizing to Alito and his family for treatment the nominee had endured from the Democrat side of the committee.

The transcript from the Kennedy/Specter exchange below. Complete transcripts of the hearings to date: Day 1 Day 2 Day 3.

KENNEDY: Last month, I sent a letter to Senator Specter asking a number of questions about your membership in CAP. And I asked Senator Specter make a formal committee request for the documents in the possession of the Library of Congress as part of the William Rusher papers. Mr. Rusher was the publisher of the National Review, was an active founder and leader of CAP.

Do you have any hesitancy or reason for us not to look at those documents?

ALITO: They're not my documents, Senator, and I have no opinion about it whatsoever.

KENNEDY: Do you think they'd be helpful?

ALITO: Senator, I don't believe I had any active involvement with this group.

I've wracked my memory and I can't recall anything. And if I had been involved actively in any way in the group, I'm sure that I would remember that.

KENNEDY: Well, Mr. Chairman, if I could have your attention, I think we ought to vote on issuing a subpoena to the custodian of those CAP records.

KENNEDY: And I want to do that at an appropriate time. I'd move that the committee go into executive session for the purpose of voting on the issuancing of -- the sole purpose for issuing the subpoena of those records.

SPECTER: Well, we'll consider that, Senator Kennedy. There are many, many requests which are coming to me and many quarters. And, quite candidly, I view the request -- if it's really a matter of importance, you and I see each other all the time and you have never mentioned it to me.

And I do not ascribe a great deal of weight -- we actually didn't get a letter, but...

KENNEDY: You did get a letter. Are you saying...

SPECTER: Well, now wait a minute; you don't know what I got. I'm about to...

KENNEDY: Yes I do, Senator, since I sent it.

SPECTER: Well, the sender does not necessarily know what the recipient gets, Senator Kennedy. You are not in a position to say what I receive.

If you'll bear with me for one minute.

KENNEDY: But I am in a position to say what I sent to you on December 22.

SPECTER: You're in a position to tell me what you sent.

KENNEDY: I renew my request, Senator. And if I'm going to be denied, then I'd appeal the decision of the chair.

I think we are entitled to this information. It deals with the fundamental issues of equality and discrimination.

This nominee has indicated he has no objection to seeing us these issues. We've gone over the questions and we are entitled to get that kind of information. And if you're going to rule it out of order, I want to have a vote on that here on our committee.

SPECTER: Well, don't be premature, Senator Kennedy. I'm not about to make a ruling on this state of the record.

I hope you won't mind if I consider it, and I hope you won't mind if I give you the specifics that there was no letter which I received.

I take umbrage at your telling me what I received. I don't mind your telling me what you mailed. But there's a big difference between what's mailed and what's received. And you know that.

We're going to move on now.

Senator Grassley...

KENNEDY: Mr. Chairman, I'd appeal the ruling of the chair on this.

SPECTER: There has been no ruling of the chair, Senator Kennedy.

KENNEDY: Well what is the -- my request is that we go into the executive session for the sole purpose of voting on a subpoena for these records that are held over at the Library of Congress -- that purpose and that purpose only.

And if I'm going to be denied that, I'd want to give notice to the chair that you're going to hear it again and again and again and we're going to have votes of this committee again and again and again until we have a resolution.
I think it's...

SPECTER: Well, Senator Kennedy, I'm not concerned about your threats to have votes again, again and again. And I'm the chairman of this committee and I have heard your request and I will consider it.

And I'm not going to have you run this committee and decide when we're going to go into executive session.

We are in the middle of a round of hearings. This is the first time you have personally called it to my attention, and this is the first time that I have focused on it. And I will consider in due course.


SPECTER: We have made some inquiries about the issue which Senator Kennedy has raised about the Concerned Alumni of Princeton. As to the letter, I am advised by my chief of staff, Michael O'Neill, that he first saw a computer letter, and that he believes later a letter was delivered to the Judiciary Committee headquarters, apparently near Christmas, perhaps on Christmas Eve. And our custom is to log letters in, and the letter was never logged in.

But I repeat and confirm that I have never seen this letter until I saw a computer printout of it about an hour ago. Mr. O'Neill did talk to me about it over the break between Christmas and New Year's. I traveled to Iraq. That's the first time on the Judiciary Committee schedule I could find a few days to get away.

And Mr. O'Neill reminds me that we talked about it on the phone and I thought the matter was unmeritorious, not worthy of the time of the commission based on all that I knew about it.

SPECTER: Very brief conversation. And we get so many requests and there are so many items that are largely staff driven, not that staff-driven matters aren't important, but if something is of significance, you customarily expect a member to tell you about it.

Senator Kennedy and I frequent the gym at the same time and talk all the time, and never mentioned it to me, nor did he take it to the ranking member.

I make it a point that Senator Leahy's calls are the first ones I return, and I have a fair number, but I return all calls from members very, very promptly. And had this matter been presented to me, I would have given it more attention than I did on that telephone call that I have referred to.

So much for matters which are not quite as relevant as what I'm about to come to.

The New York Times published a story about this on November 26th, and my chief of staff, William Reynolds, talked to David Kirkpatrick, who said he had gone through all of the records. And as the story in the public domain has stated, these are the records that the Library of Congress, the Rusher records, those records and others at the library at Princeton give no indication that Judge Alito was among the group's major donors. He was not an active leader of the group.

SPECTER: And two of his classmates who were involved and Mr. Rusher said they did not remember his playing a role.

Well, the obvious thing to do is to call Mr. Rusher, which Mr. O'Neill did over the lunch hour. And Mr. Rusher said he'd be glad to have us look at his records and that he'd received a request from Congressional Research Service, but it was from an unnamed requester, and he declined.

But he said, had he received a request from Senator Kennedy or some member of this committee, he would have made the records available.

So, in Senator Kennedy's absence, I asked a staffer to tell him that we had moved ahead with it; I didn't want waste any time.

And Mr. O'Neill has contacted Senator Kennedy's staffers and they are en route or at the Library of Congress to look at these records so that we can confirm what the New York Times' David Kirkpatrick has had to say.

I am just a little puzzled at the issue being raised in this manner. We talk all the time. And I'm just a little surprised that Senator Kennedy hadn't talked to Senator Leahy or hadn't talked to me before he made a request for access to the Rusher records, talks about a subpoena, talks about a ruling of the chair, talks about overruling the chair -- just a little tussle.

But the substantive matters are being attended to.

SPECTER: And I share Senator Kennedy's concern that we have all the facts, all the facts, all the facts. And this is a lifetime appointment, it's a matter of tremendous importance, and I wouldn't want to find on some occasion that something comes to light which would bear on this nomination that we could have found out had we had been more vigilant.


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