Kennedy, Specter Spat Centers on Subpoena Request

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

(2nd Add: Includes additional comments by Judge Samuel Alito.)

( - Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) engaged in a heated exchange during Wednesday's session of the Samuel Alito confirmation hearings regarding a subpoena request for documents on a conservative Princeton alumni group.

The documents, which are housed at the Library of Congress, are concerning William Rusher, a former publisher of the National Review and former leader of Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP). According to Kennedy, CAP was formed in 1972 to oppose the school's decision to admit women and minorities.

Kennedy accused the group of being openly hostile to homosexuals and the disabled. Alito noted his CAP membership in his 1985 application while applying for a deputy assistant attorney general position in the Office of Legal Counsel, Kennedy said.

Kennedy told Specter he issued a formal committee request for the documents in a letter mailed last month and asked for a vote on issuing the subpoena. Specter said he never received the request, to which Kennedy replied, "You did get a letter."

"Now wait a minute. You don't know what I got," Specter said.

"Of course I do, senator, since I sent it," Kennedy added. He recalled mailing the request on Dec. 22, 2005, adding that he renews his request and if he should be denied, he would "appeal the decision of the chair."

"I think we are entitled to this information. It deals with the fundamental issues of equality and discrimination that this nominee has indicated he has no objection to us seeing these issues," said Kennedy.

"We've gone over the questions and we are going to get that kind of information, and if you're gonna rule it out of order, I want ... to have a vote on that here in, on our committee," Kennedy added.

Specter cautioned Kennedy not to be "premature," adding that he was "not about to make a ruling" at this time.

"I hope you won't mind if I consider, and I hope you won't mind if I give you the specifics that there was no letter which I received. I take umbrage at your telling me what I received. I don't mind your telling me what you mailed. But there is a big difference between what's mailed and what's received, and you know that," said Specter.

When Specter attempted to move on, Kennedy interrupted again, announcing he plans to "appeal the ruling of the chair on this."

"There's been ... no ruling of the chair on this," said Specter.

"Well ... my request is that we go into the executive session for the sole purpose of voting on a subpoena for these records that are held over at the Library of Congress, for that purpose and that purpose only," said Kennedy.

"And if I'm going to be denied that, I'd want to give notice to the chair that you're going to have it again and again, and we're gonna have votes of this committee again and again until we have a resolution..." added Kennedy.

"Well, Senator Kennedy, I'm not concerned about your threats to have votes again, again, and again. And I'm the chairman of this committee and I have heard your request, and I will consider it," said Specter.

"And I'm not gonna have you run this committee and decide when we're gonna go into executive session. We're in the middle of a round of hearings. This is the first time you have personally called it to my attention, and this is the first time that I have focused on it. And I will consider it in due course," added Specter.

Alito told Kennedy he cannot remember being an active member of CAP. "Senator, I don't believe I had any active ? involvement with this group. I've racked my memory and I can't recall anything, and if I had been involved actively in any way in the group, I'm sure that I would remember," he said.

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