It's not news to me that Alito was associated with Concerned Alumni of Princeton during the 80s. This issue came up over a month ago at the Volokh Conspiracy. The worry here is that CAP started out by opposing Princeton's acceptance of women and minorities and eventually favoring affirmative action for white males. Some of the Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee are planning to make a big deal of this, according to Jollyblogger. A few points David brings out along the way are worth remembering. Alito says he joined the organization because they were at the time protesting the banning of ROTC at Princeton. The senators intend to question Alito's commitment to racial equality by putting forth a quote from someone else that he might not endorse. Someone published in a CAP newsletter that research shows black people to have lower intelligence than white people, qualifying the statement with "for whatever reason". That qualification indicates that it may well be environmentally caused or even caused by white racism, which quite possibly (for all the quote says) might prevent black children from developing their intellectual potential. So the quote itself isn't necessarily racist and even goes out of its way to be clear that it's consistent with favoring racial equality. So I just can't see how a quote by someone that he might not endorse that doesn't even necessarily amount to racism to begin with is supposed to be bad, even if he happened to support some endeavor the group was doing.
But one question no one seems to be addressing is whether the group when he joined it was really the same group as when it was founded. The group started in favor of affirmative action for white males, back when Princeton was first integrated across male-female lines. How likely is it that the group was still focused on that hopeless agenda by the mid-80s when Alito was talking about his support for the group? I suspect the group wasn't really about the same sorts of things. Some people are talking as if joining or supporting a group that started for racist reasons is automatically immoral and thus disqualifying of someone for a position on the Supreme Court. If that were true, Justice Ginsburg should never have made it onto the bench. She was heavily involved with Planned Parenthood, which started as a racist eugenics organization seeking to prevent black people and other undesirables from reproducing too much (and they've succeeded remarkably, even if the current organization doesn't endorse that particular goal in the same way or for the same reasons). Senators Schumer, Kennedy, and Feinstein should shut up rather quickly once that comparison is made.
Update: I wanted to add a few pieces of information that have come out in the hearings. One is that the publication this quote was taken from is not a newsletter of the organization but more like a journal. There's a disclaimer in the front that says views published in it are not necessarily endorsed by the organization. It's more like the journal of the American Medical Association (to use Senator Coburn's example) than a newsletter of an organization expressing its own views. So this really and truly is a private individual not expressing the group's viws.
Second, at least two people have gone on record about what the group's official stance on the co-education issue was. It was that they didn't want quotas. It wasn't opposition to co-education. Quotas have since been declared unconstitutional. This is not a far right view. It's what's now the law of the land, and a fairly liberal Supreme Court gave it to us. Individuals within the organization may have endorsed more extreme views, and some of them seem to have published those views in this journal the organization ran, but that has little bearing on the organizations official stance on anything.