CAP critic dropped from Alito witness list
An alumnus tapped by Democrats to testify in next week's Senate hearings on Samuel Alito '72 will no longer appear, removing the only witness slated to speak specifically about a controversial conservative alumni group of which Alito was a member.
Stephen Dujack '76, an environmental writer, had been outspoken in his condemnation of the group, Concerned Alumni of Princeton, which during the 1970s criticized the University's move to coeducation and adoption of affirmative action. Opponents of Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court had seized on his membership in the group to show that he is out-of-step with mainstream America on core issues.
Though it wasn't immediately clear why Dujack was removed from the Democrats' witness list, some observers believe he was vulnerable to attacks over an April 2003 Los Angeles Times column he wrote that compared animals killed in slaughterhouses with victims of the Holocaust.
On Friday, the office of Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), a strong Alito backer, circulated copies of the column. By that evening, Dujack's name had been removed from a full list of witnesses released by the judiciary committee.
The column has not been specifically cited as the reason for Dujack's removal from the witness list, and he said he still plans to submit written testimony about the alumni group to the judiciary committee to tell senators "how awful this organization was."
"I'm going to want to explain why those of us who know the organization can be filled with revulsion at hearing that a person who was selected to go our nation's high court was proud of his membership in that organization," Dujack said in an email.
Politics professor and prominent conservative constitutional scholar Robert George described Dujack as "an example of a witness Republicans would be able to beat up pretty badly."
"I noticed conservative websites were just salivating because [Dujack] just seemed like such an obvious target," George said. "They could use him to say, 'Look these people against Alito are just these extreme people on the left.' "
Spokesmen for senior senators on the judiciary committee could not be reached for comment.
Dujack said in an email interview that the column has since brought him great grief and that he was only trying to defend something his late grandfather, Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, had said about animal rights. Singer was a vegetarian and an advisory board member of a group called "Concern for Helping Animals in Israel."
"I haven't read any of the critiques thus far that mention my grandfather or anything about all of that stuff — just this short sound-bite stuff," Dujack said.
He added, "I regret very much having written that article. It's caused so much pain to people that I didn't intend to, so many who suffered like my family and worse ... That's the only thing I've written that I wish I could pull back. We all make mistakes sometimes."
Dujack has been replaced by two speakers who will discuss other topics, leaving nobody to speak about the alumni group, which has caused a storm of controversy since a 1985 application for a job at the Justice Department listing Alito's membership in the group was released in November.
But Dujack and other opponents believe that his CAP membership will still be an issue. "The issue is 'in play,' which was all that I had tried to accomplish when I set out — and I seem to have succeeded," Dujack said.
Judith Schaeffer '74, deputy legal director for People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group that opposes Alito's confirmation, agreed that the issue will not soon disappear.
"It shouldn't at all," she said. "What [Dujack's] had to say is there and in writing. It's not just him, but the record is demonstrable."
This latest development follows a string of criticisms and questions from the press and Democrats about Alito and CAP, which was founded in 1972 and had become largely defunct by 1987.
Two weeks ago, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), a judiciary committee member who has described CAP as "anti-black" and "anti-women," asked committee chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) to make a formal request for access to the archives of one of CAP's founders, hoping to learn more about Alito's involvement in the group. (See full story.)
On Friday, the Drudge Report citied anonymous Senate Democratic aides as saying that tying Alito to CAP was a Democratic strategy to derail his nomination. The report said the aides would make mention of racist comments in Prospect, the alumni group's magazine, and that it didn't matter that Alito had no part in writing them or any known connection to them.
Drudge also reported that "Alito will testify that he joined CAP as a protest over Princeton policy that would not allow the ROTC on campus," but did not cite a source.
Opinion pieces in The New York Times and The Washington Post this weekend, including one by Kennedy, again make mention of CAP to raise questions about Alito's nomination.
Arguing that the Senate should "explore Judge Alito's honesty" because of suggestions that "he will bend the truth when it suits his purposes," an editorial in Sunday's New York Times said: "Judge Alito has said he does not recall being in an ultraconservative group called Concerned Alumni of Princeton, which opposed coeducation and affirmative action. That is odd, since he boasted of his membership in that same 1985 job application."
Trying to rebuff concerns about his involvement with CAP, Alito said in a statement last month to the judiciary committee that despite his Justice Department job application, "I have no recollection of being a member, of attending meetings, or otherwise participating in the activities of the group."
Supporters of CAP say the group was dedicated to increasing alumni involvement in University governance and tempering Nassau Hall's left-wing tendencies.
Fox News analyst and former New Jersey superior court judge Andrew Napolitano '72, a former CAP board member, said last month that he has "zero recollection" of Alito participating in the group. "His recollection and mine — which is that there's no recollection of him attending any of this stuff — are the same," Napolitano said.
Supporters of Alito's nomination inside and outside of the Senate have praised his intelligence and experience, among other factors. The nonpartisan American Bar Association this week gave Alito a unanimous "well qualified" rating.
"The President has selected a man with impeccable qualifications to serve on the Supreme Court," Cornyn has said previously of the nomination. "Judge Alito has served as a federal court of appeals judge for the last 15 years — giving him more judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years."
Dujack, a former associate editor at the Princeton Alumni Weekly, has publicly written about CAP in The Daily Princetonian and the Newark Star-Ledger since Alito's nomination was announced.
In a Nov. 22 op-ed for The Daily Princetonian, he wrote that Alito "will have to explain how he permitted himself to belong to an organization that was overtly racist and sexist for its entire 14-year existence — at times passionately so, too." (See full story.)
Dujack is scheduled to speak on campus Jan. 13 at an event sponsored by the College Democrats.
Related:— Stage set for showdown over Alito (Jan. 8, 2006) — Alito and CAP (Nov. 18, 2005) — Archive of 'Prince' coverage of the Alito nomination
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