Novak falsely claimed “no evidence” that Concerned Alumni of Princeton was “against women”

Robert D. Novak falsely stated that there was “no evidence” the group Concerned Alumni of Princeton, of which Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. was a member, was against women.

While discussing the Senate confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor Robert D. Novak falsely claimed that there was “no evidence” that members of the now-defunct group Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP) “were against women.” As Novak explained it, the group, whose members issued statements decrying the admission of women to Princeton University, was “just trying to get Princeton off the left-wing bias.” But CAP publications and statements by prominent members strongly suggest the group had a history of opposing the recruitment and admission of women to Princeton.

Alito's membership in CAP -- which he noted on his 1985 job application for the position of deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration -- has been raised at the hearing, where several senators have questioned Alito on his affiliation with the organization. Alito earned a bachelor's degree from Princeton in 1972, graduating with the university's last all-male class. Novak's comments came during the January 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes.

Founded in the same year that Alito graduated -- three years after Princeton began admitting women to the university -- CAP was criticized in its early years by current Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) who, according to a November 27, 2005, New York Times article, sat on a Princeton alumni panel in 1975 that condemned “the distorted, narrow and hostile view of the university” advanced by the members of CAP.

Marsha Levy-Warren, graduate of the first coeducational class (1973) and former vice president of the student government, told The Daily Princetonian that CAP was “a far-right organization funded by conservative alumni committed to turning back the clock on coeducation at the University,” according to a November 18, 2005, article in the campus newspaper. The Princetonian reported that CAP, during its formation, was co-chaired by Asa Bushnell and Shelby Cullom Davis, both outspoken opponents of coeducation at the university. The campus newspaper described Davis as “a strong traditionalist, firmly opposed to the many of the new directions Princeton was taking, including coeducation.”

CAP published a magazine, Prospect, edited by Alito classmate T. Harding Jones, who, according to the Princetonian, wrote in the February 1973 issue that the increasing number of women in the Princeton student body showed that "[t]he makeup of the Princeton student body has changed drastically for the worse." On March 3, 1974, according to People for the American Way, Jones told The New York Times that "[c]o-education has ruined the mystique and the camaraderies that used to exist. Princeton has now given into the fad of the moment, and I think it's going to prove to be a very unfortunate thing."

According to the Princetonian, Davis wrote in Prospect:

“May I recall, and with some nostalgia, my father's 50th reunion, a body of men, relatively homogenous in interests and backgrounds, who had known and liked each other over the years during which they had contributed much in spirit and substance to the greatness of Princeton ... I cannot envisage a similar happening in the future,” Davis added, “with an undergraduate student population of approximately 40% women and minorities, such as the Administration has proposed.”

Additionally, according to The Nation, "[T]he executive committee of CAP published a statement in December 1973 that affirmed unequivocally, 'Concerned Alumni of Princeton opposes adoption of a sex-blind admission policy.' " And according to a November 26, 2005, New York Times article by staff writer David Kirkpatrick, in the 1980s CAP also opposed the integration of three all-male “eating clubs where many upper class Princeton students took their meals.”

Also, according to People for the American Way, “A 1973 CAP fundraising letter claimed that 'a student population of approximately 40 percent women and minorities will largely vitiate the alumni body of the future.'"

As the November 26, 2005, New York Times article noted:

In 1975, an alumni panel that included Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the current Republican leader and a 1974 Princeton graduate, concluded that Concerned Alumni had “presented a distorted, narrow and hostile view of the university that cannot help but have misinformed and even alarmed many alumni” and “undoubtedly generated adverse national publicity.”

The group disbanded in 1987. Alito listed his membership in the group on the "Personal Qualifications Statements" part of his 1985 application for the position of deputy assistant attorney general with the Reagan administration.

From the January 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

ALAN COLMES (co-host): But, do they have a point about civil rights? For example, it turns out he was once a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton. The story is that that group tried to challenge the admission of women and minorities. Not friendly to the disabled. Bill Bradley spoke out against this group, as did Bill Frist. Will issues like that cause him big trouble?

NOVAK: I think that could. They've done some statistical things on how many times he didn't vote for so-called black civil rights proposals in the court. The CAP, the Concerned -- the Princeton alumni group, they're just trying to get Princeton off the left-wing bias. And there's no signs at all, no evidence that they were against women. But that -- I think anything that they can find -- you see, the way it works is they try to find the things -- they decide in the first place that they're attacking him, they're against him, and then they try to find matters to try to substantiate that assault.