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Committee on Judicial Conduct: no discriminatory club memberships means no discriminatory club memberships

Bankruptcy Judge George C. Paine remained a member of the Belle Meade Country Club, which effectively prohibits female and African-American members, even after they rebuffed his efforts to desegregate. The Sixth Circuit refused to hold this sanctionable in a 10-8 vote because of Judge Paine's efforts to desegregate, but the Committee on Judicial Conduct reversed, noting that under Canon 2C, "Membership of a judge in an organization that practices invidious discrimination gives rise to perceptions that the judge's impartiality is impaired." No sanctions will accrue against Judge Paine given his pending retirement, but other judges are on notice.

This is a much more far-ranging decision than people realize, because organizations that practice invidious discrimination—same-sex fraternities—are quite common. We know we can't always trust Wikipedia, so take this list with a grain of salt, but articles on that site (which are largely written by bragging fraternity members) Judge Harry Edwards (D.C. Circuit) is a member of the all-male Alpha Phi Alpha, Judge James Singleton (D. Alaska) is a member of the all-male Tau Kappa Epsilon, Roger Gregory (4th Circuit) is a member of the all-male Omega Psi Phi. Will they be required to renounce their memberships in organizations that practice invidious discrimination? (Fraternities have a greater effect on society than country clubs.)

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.