I once had a legal dispute with a university department chairman over whether or not he had torn down the handbills I had posted announcing a campus talk I was scheduled to give. The chairman claimed he could not recall whether he had ripped down the notices. In the 9th Circuit Court hearing, Judge Stephen Reinhardt told the chairman’s attorney from the Montana Attorney General’s office that it was puzzling that the chairman’s memory was so faulty.
In response, the attorney said he had discussed the matter with the chairman, who assured him that he was 99 per cent certain he had not taken down the handbills; but there was that other one per cent he wasn’t sure of.
When examining the chairman’s resumé, I noticed that he claimed to have taught journalism classes at the University of Ankara in Turkey, although the evidence said he had done no such thing. Later the chairman removed the reference to Turkey from his official resumé.
Some may recall the unfortunate incident in which the notable historian Joseph Ellis falsely and repeatedly claimed to have served in Viet Nam. Padding one’s self-history is not unusual, and as the Ellis story demonstrates, even exceptionally brilliant people are not immune from stretching the truth.
All this brings me to the problem posed by Judge Samuel Alito regarding his apparent membership in the notorious Concerned Alumni of Princeton, a “fact” that was listed for awhile on the Judges c.v. and job application. Unfortunately, the judge now states he can not recall anything about his membership, except that it might have had something to do with the Princeton R.O.T.C. program. After inspecting C.A.P. records, Senator Arlen Specter stated those records contained no mention of Samuel Alito.
The conventional theory is that Judge Alito later thought better of listing his membership in a controversial organization, and may have truly forgotten everything about his participation in the group. However, this memory lapse seems unusual not merely because Judge Alito once listed it in his credentials– so he must have remembered it in the past. The real question is why a “brilliant” man who can recite chapter and verse from legal documents and history (as well as the other events from his life) — why this mentally adept lawyer and jurist can’t remember anything about joining the C.A.P.
Apologists for Alito imply he may also have been advised to disrecall his purported membership because the C.A.P. agenda is no longer politically correct.
As one with some experience at exposing frauds, let me propose that it is very possible Samuel Alito was never a member of C.A.P. Instead, he could easily have padded his credentials to impress potential employers, especially those from the Republican right. Unfortunately, no committee member raised this possibility, even though it would have been both appropriate and a way to elicit more specific responses from Judge Alito on the subject.
Judge Alito should be challenged on this issue. Did he lie on his resume? If so, did he lie to the Senate committee regarding his faulty memory? The lie? The cover-up? The lady or the tiger?
DOUG GIEBEL is a Montana analyst and writer. He welcomes comment: firstname.lastname@example.org