Judge Alito on Hamilton Township and Princeton

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In his opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Samuel Alito referred to his early years in Hamilton Township, just outside Trenton, and his college years at Princeton.

I got here in part because of the community in which I grew up. It was a warm, but definitely an unpretentious, down-to-earth community. Most of the adults in the neighborhood were not college graduates. I attended the public schools. In my spare time, I played baseball and other sports with my friends.

And I have happy memories and strong memories of those days and good memories of the good sense and the decency of my friends and my neighbors.

And after I graduated from high school, I went a full 12 miles down the road, but really to a different world when I entered Princeton University. A generation earlier, I think that somebody from my background probably would not have felt fully comfortable at a college like Princeton. But, by the time I graduated from high school, things had changed.

And this was a time of great intellectual excitement for me. Both college and law school opened up new worlds of ideas. But this was back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It was a time of turmoil at colleges and universities. And I saw some very smart people and very privileged people behaving irresponsibly. And I couldn't help making a contrast between some of the worst of what I saw on the campus and the good sense and the decency of the people back in my own community.

There it is, in a nutshell, the cultural conflict of the 1960s and 1970s: the dutiful people versus the beautiful people. I've also had occasion to contrast Hamilton Township and Princeton. And I've written a column on the Trustfunder Left, which, judging from the e-mail I received, infuriated a lot of liberals who are uncomfortable with the notion that an important part of the Democratic Party's base are underemployed rich people. Like the character who is reportedly contemplating a primary challenge to Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman.