Is It OK for a Judge to Be Part of Whites Only Club?

May 17, 2011  |  

(New York Times) — The Belle Meade Country Club in Nashville has about 600 voting members. None of them are women, and none of them are black. But one of them is a federal judge.  In a confidential 10-to-8 decision last month, the Judicial Council of the Sixth Circuit, which hears misconduct complaints about federal judges in Tennessee and three other states, said the judge could keep his membership at Belle Meade.  The ruling opens windows on two odd institutions. One is a fading country club that was once an arbiter of success in Nashville’s social, political and business circles. The other is the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which sits in Cincinnati and is surely the most dysfunctional federal appeals court in the nation.  “The record before this court paints a picture of Belle Meade as an old boys’ club that considers and admits Caucasian male applicants on a different basis than African-American and female applicants,” Judge R. Guy Cole Jr. wrote in a dissent from last month’s ruling. “We federal judges must sometimes make sacrifices for the honor of the office we hold, and the judge’s membership in Belle Meade should have been one of them.”

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