William Rehnquist, as you recall was appointed to the Court in 1972 by Nixon, and when Burger retired as Chief Justice, Reagan nominated Rehnquist to replace him. Here's Hatch's take on an issue that arose during the confirmation hearing:
The deed for Justice Rehnquist’s vacation home in Vermont contained a restrictive covenant precluding sale to Jews. Similarly a property the justice had once owned in Arizona forbade the sale of the land to someone other than a Caucasian. No one asserted that Mr. Rehnquist had requested that these covenants be included in the deeds. No one claimed he even knew about them. In fact, he did not. Nonetheless, the implication was made that he must implicitly agree with their prohibitions, because he had not had them expunged.(Hatch also recounts that "there were bitter fights over nominations for positions such as the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health," but in fairness to Hatch, he wrote that before Bush's appointment of incompetent cronies resulted in so many unnecessary deaths in New Orleans and West Virginia.)
I remember the Rehnquist/restrictive covenant controversy somewhat. My response at the time was to resign my membership in the Rotary Club because in those days, it excluded women. Of course, I knew that the Rotarians were not a misogynist organization devoted to keeping women in their place. One of my heroes was a Rotarian, but I knew the importance of symbolism. I didn't want anyone to later say that I belonged to a discriminatory organization. But, hey, that's just me.
People who know Judge Alito, may look at me and say, "I knew Sam Alito; I worked with Sam Alito; and you, Sir, are no Sam Alito."
They're right. Which is why if even a knucklehead like me can figure out that it's not good to belong to a nominally discriminatory organization, can't we expect a little more from our next Supreme Court nominee?
Let's be clear about what happened. In Let the confirmation games begin, I wrote,
First you get him to say what he thinks people want to hear. This is easy, because he’s that kind of a guy. Trust me on this; I’ve seen the type before.This is exactly what happened in 1985 when Alito was an assistant to the solicitor general. He wanted to move up, and so he applied for a promotion within the Reagan administration. Trying to prove up the idea that he was a guy who would fit in with the Reagan boys, he claimed membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP).
In 1983, CAP published an essay entitled, In Defense of Elitism, which lamented the 'fact' that:
"People nowadays just don't seem to know their place. Everywhere one turns, blacks and Hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and Hispanic. The physically handicapped are trying to gain equal representation in professional sports. And homosexuals are demanding the government vouchsafe them the right to bear children."The question some may ask is why, when this well-publicized article was published two years earlier didn't Sam Alito resign from this abhorrent organization, and, worse, why was he still touting his membership in it as if it were something to be proud of? If someone asks you this question, just tell 'em:
I know Big Mitch; I've read Big Mitch's blog; and you, Sam Alito, are no Big Mitch!“... and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”