The panel went into a closed session to look over the FBI background report on the nominee before moving on to public sessions with other witnesses.
The day began with Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., announcing that a review of documents supplied by the leader of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton found no evidence that Alito had been an active member. Democrats on the committee questioned Alito's membership in a group formed by alumni angered by Princeton's decision to admit women and to increase the number of minority students.
The issue became an emotional one Wednesday with Alito's wife leaving the committee room in tears at one point.
Specter said staff members reviewed documents including minutes of the group's meetings and attendance records, and that Alito's name was not in any of the papers. Alito listed his membership on a 1985 application for a job in the Reagan administration but testified he didn't recall joining the organization.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the ranking Democrat on the committee, in a final statement said he was not satisfied that Alito "would stand as a check and balance on this president or any president."
As he excused Alito as a witness, Specter said that the judge spent 18 hours answering 700 questions from the committee.