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Setting the Record Straight: Alito’s Role With CAP

As Democrats continue to hammer away at Samuel Alito for his association with Concerned Alumni of Princeton, the following background on his affiliation with the group clarifies some of the misinformation being spread.

Here’s the report:

The reason Sam Alito was involved with CAP was because Princeton kicked the ROTC off campus in 1970.  In Alito’s view, Princeton was blameworthy for thinking that it was “too good for the military.”

Alito was a member of Army ROTC while at Princeton.  He thus knew from firsthand experience how ROTC can open doors for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend an elite Ivy League institution like Princeton.

The very first issue of CAP’s biweekly newspaper, the Prospect, contained an article about Princeton’s efforts to run ROTC off campus.

A 1985 article from the Princeton Packet, a university newspaper, confirms that one of the principal reasons CAP was formed was because of “a campaign to eliminate the Army ROTC program.”  See Charles Stile, A Conservative Voice Targets the University, Princeton Packet, Feb. 12, 1985.

Princeton was awash in anti-military sentiment in the 1970s.  During Alito’s senior year, vandals firebombed Princeton ROTC headquarters.  Andrew Napolitano, an Alito classmate and fellow member of ROTC, has indicated that:  “we had to leave Princeton and go to a state school because radicals at Princeton had firebombed the ROTC offices.  And rather than building little new offices, the university just let the military leave and stay off campus.”  Fox News, Jan. 10, 2006.

Princeton discriminated against ROTC in other ways, too.  In the spring of 1969, the university faculty voted to end all academic credit for ROTC classes.

Alito’s involvement with CAP was exceedingly minimal.  Andrew Napolitano, who was on CAP’s board for seven or eight years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, has indicated that:  “I have no recollection of Sam being a member of the organization or involved in any way.”  Fox News, Jan. 10, 2006.

CAP was not opposed to the admission of women and minorities.  Some in the group’s leadership expressly endorsed coeducation.  And while CAP was opposed to racial quotas, it didn’t believe that it was appropriate to discriminate on the basis of race.

One of CAP’s co-founders, John Thatcher (’53) wrote to the college newspaper to correct “the very unfortunate impression” that the group was against coeductation:  “I support coeducation at Princeton, and have done so since its inception.”

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Written By

Mr. Bluey, a contributing editor to Human Events, is director of the Center for Media & Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation. He maintains a blog at RobertBluey.com.

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