Monday, June 15, 2009

Concerned Alitos for Princeton

The disparagement of Sonia Sotomayor by Pat Buchanan and other Republicans as an affirmative action mediocrity is especially irksome when you consider Justice Samuel Alito's membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton, a group that spent the early 1970s opposing the admission of women to the previously all-male bastions of the Ivy League. But I never realized how much the media had missed during Alito's confirmation hearings until I took a look at The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton by the sociologist Jerome Karabel. According to Karabel, one of the problems that Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP) had with the changes in admissions policies in the 1970s was that admissions were becoming too meritocratic:

The rejection of the demand to limit (and, preferably to reduce) the number of women was one of its many defeats. One of CAP's primary objectives was to reduce the number of students accepted almost exclusively on the basis of "brains," but the Admissions Office was moving precisely in the opposite direction...

In fact, when Princeton reduced the number of students it admitted with mediocre academic records, Concerned Alumni of Princeton were the first to complain, because the new policies resulted in a reduction in the number of college athletes! In other words, don't be fooled! The right wing's complaints about Sonia Sotomayor have less to do with her qualifications and judicial acumen than with the fact that Obama isn't giving the slot to some mediocre right-wing white guy.

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