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Kennedy quits club that excludes women

WASHINGTON -- Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who criticized the past membership of Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. in a controversial Princeton University alumni club, severed his ties yesterday with a former Harvard social club that bans women members.

''He has decided to be taken off their rolls, believing that it is a mistake to continue to be affiliated," Melissa Wagoner, Kennedy spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The Massachusetts Democrat, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, grilled Alito during a Senate confirmation hearing last week about Alito's ties to the Concerned Alumni of Princeton, an alumni group that opposed the admission of women and minorities at the Ivy League school.

A Washington Times story about Kennedy's Owl Club ties last week sparked criticism from Republicans, who branded Kennedy a hypocrite.

Kennedy joined the Owl Club when he was a student at Harvard. Though not an active member since college, he donated about $100 to the club in October, his office said yesterday.

The senator has sent a letter to the club asking for his name to be removed from all official documents.

''Senator Kennedy joined Harvard's Owl Club in 1954, a social organization similar to a fraternity, before women were admitted to the campus and long before they were integrated into campus life," Wagoner said.

Harvard ended its ties with the all-male club and others like it in 1984.

''While we are glad Ted Kennedy has decided to get on the equality bandwagon, it's laughable given that his revelation comes less than a week after his hypocritical attacks on Judge Alito," Tracey Schmitt, a Republican National Committee spokeswoman, said yesterday.

''There is absolutely nothing in common between this social club and an organization like CAP that was established to push a political agenda to prohibit women and minorities from attending Princeton," Wagoner said. ''No one can question Senator Kennedy's lifelong commitment to fighting for civil rights, equality, and justice."

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