Thursday, January 12, 2006

Swimming with Sharks: Alito’s visit with the Senate Judiciary Committee

As discussed here yesterday, Senator Kennedy [a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee] was ready to trundle out the heavy artillery to get access to his hoped for “smoking gun,” documents on the Concerned Alumni of Princeton or CAP group. Senator Kennedy thought he had his silver bullet to deflect Judge Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Arguments on judicial philosophy, temperament and integrity were clearly not working. Time for Kennedy to take out the brass knuckles. Two decades ago, U. S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito said he was a member of CAP, but this week Judge Alito claimed to have virtually no memory of it, or his involvement in same. I half expected Sen. Kennedy to say: Are you or have you ever been a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton?

From Tonight’s NBC Nightly network news:

Committee staffers revealed that a late night search of records found not a single reference to Judge Samuel Alito in the files of a controversial group of Princeton alumni [CAP].

From Tonight’s PBS’ The News Hour with Jim Lehrer:

Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy had demanded an inspection of the records of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton or CAP. The judge had touted his membership in the controversial group on a Reagan Era job application, but this week told senators he did not recall any involvement [in the group]. This morning, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Specter said an overnight examination of the records found no mention of Alito.

Video Clip of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter [R-PA] on The News Hour:

The files contained dozens of articles, including investigative expos written at the height of the Organization’s prominence, but Samuel Alito’s name is nowhere to be found in any of them.

From Senator Kennedy’s web site:

No mention of the CAP file search, or its failure to find anything supporting the Senator’s argument. And, no updates on Chappaquiddick, either.

From Senator Kennedy’s July 25, 1969 Statement to the People of Massachusetts, one week after Mary Jo Kopechne died, from suffocation, in a car Senator Kennedy had been driving, before he drove it into a pond:

My fellow citizens:

I have requested this opportunity to talk to the people of Massachusetts about the tragedy which happened last Friday evening. This morning I entered a plea of guilty to the charge of leaving the scene of an accident. Prior to my appearance in court it would have been improper for me to comment on these matters. But tonight I am free to tell you what happened and to say what it means to me.
There is no truth, no truth whatsoever, to the widely circulated suspicions of immoral conduct that have been leveled at my behavior and hers regarding that evening. There has never been a private relationship between us of any kind. I know of nothing in Mary Jo's conduct on that or any other occasion -- the same is true of the other girls at that party -- that would lend any substance to such ugly speculation about their character. Nor was I driving under the influence of liquor.
Little over one mile away, the car that I was driving on the unlit road went off a narrow bridge which had no guard rails and was built on a left angle to the road. The car overturned in a deep pond and immediately filled with water. I remember thinking as the cold water rushed in around my head that I was for certain drowning. Then water entered my lungs and I actually felt the sensation of drowning. But somehow I struggled to the surface alive. I made immediate and repeated efforts to save Mary Jo by diving into strong and murky current, but succeeded only in increasing my state of utter exhaustion and alarm. My conduct and conversations during the next several hours, to the extent that I can remember them, make no sense to me at all.
I regard as indefensible the fact that I did not report the accident to the police immediately.Instead of looking directly for a telephone after lying exhausted in the grass for an undetermined time, I walked back to the cottage where the party was being held and requested the help of two friends, my cousin [Ed. note: and his lawyer], Joseph Gargan and Phil Markham [Ed. note: U. S. Attorney], and directed them to return immediately to the scene with me …
Instructing Gargan and Markham not to alarm Mary Jo's friends that night, I had them take me to the ferry crossing. The ferry having shut down for the night, I suddenly jumped into the water and impulsively swam across, nearly drowning once again in the effort, and returned to my hotel about 2 A.M. and collapsed in my room. I remember going out at one point and saying something to the room clerk. In the morning, with my mind somewhat more lucid, I made an effort to call a family legal advisor, Burke Marshall, from a public telephone on the Chappaquiddick side of the ferry and belatedly reported the accident to the Martha's Vineyard police.
I pray that I can have the courage to make the right decision. Whatever is decided and whatever the future holds for me, I hope that I shall have been able to put this most recent tragedy behind me and make some further contribution to our state and mankind, whether it be in public or private life...
"Public Affairs" Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at