TIME reports that Judge Alito's wife left his confirmation hearings in tears today. The presumption of the Republicans is that she was upset by Democratic senators' questions that focused on Alito's record on race and gender, which led to Sen. Lindsey Graham's asking, "Are you really a closet bigot?" and Alito's replying that he is "not any kind of a bigot." A good answer, as I would have thought that in examining Alito's membership in an alumni group, job applications, written opinions and votes as a judge, any bigotry thus revealed could hardly be called "closet." If the senators were investigating whether Alito discriminates on the basis of race or gender in the privacy of his own bedroom, for example, that might be considered a determination of "closet" bigotry. Especially if they failed to find Alito to have been biased on the basis of sex, that would be good reason for his wife to be upset.
Graham continued, "Guilt by association is going to drive good men and women away from wanting to sit where you're sitting." This is an assertion that worries me. Not that I ever expect to be sitting before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but just in case, perhaps I should review my past associations. I graduated from a high school that was still under a desegregation court order during my attendance, and was in the sex-discriminatory National Honor Society. Shortly after my graduation, the father of one of my schoolmates was killed in a hate crime that some considered an indictment of the area in which I grew up. I attended a university founded by a slaveholder, built by slaves and that purchased slaves, which continues to have race-related problems. I worked for an African American-owned company before law school, but the top executives were all male, and I also was employed by a company that perpetuates reliance on discriminatory standardized exams. At law school, I joined the Federalist Society, which pretty much ends the discussion.
FUN FACTS: The Concerned Alumni of Princeton were early adopters of the complaints now widespread among conservatives, such as that too few faculty members voted for Nixon. Also, CAP seems to have been unamused by the school's band. The students' reaction (scroll to bottom of this; halfway down this) makes me nostalgic for UVA's pep band, now mostly a memory thanks to our own hidebound alumni and the easily-offended governor of West Virginia.