NEW YORK (Jul. 15)
The American Bar Association, which is holding its annual convention in Miami Beach in August, has canceled its arrangements for two sessions scheduled to be held at a private club that bars Jews and other minorities from membership.
Morris B. Abram, president of the American Jewish Committee, praised the Bar Association’s decision as a “significant step” which could serve as a “lesson that discriminatory membership practices represent a luxury which few groups can long afford.”
The move by the Bar Association to cancel arrangements for two of its sessions at the Bath Club of Miami Beach, was disclosed in a letter from Lewis F. Powell, Jr., of Richmond, Va., president of the American Bar Association, to Mr. Abram, who is also the U. S. Representative on the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
On June 29, Mr. Abram, who is an attorney, had written to Mr. Powell, pointing out that Jews have been “systematically excluded from the Bath Club except when invited as a guest by a member.” Mr. Abram had written: “It is rather late, I believe for an organization like the American Bar Association not to be fully aware of the reactions of minority group members of that organization to discriminatory practices which bar them from access to places where only their Christian brethren are welcome.”
In reply, Mr. Powell asserted that the American Bar Association “does not practice or tolerate racial or religious discrimination in any form,” and therefore has made arrangements to hold its Distinguished Guests Dinner and the dinner dance of its Section of Taxation elsewhere. Both of these events are part of the annual convention program from August 9 through August 19, and were slated for the Bath Club. The headquarters of the convention where most of the sessions will be held is at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.
The Bar Association president said that despite the “difficult problem” posed by the need to change arrangements “made over a year ago” with the Bath Club, he could not “leave the Association in a position where some might misinterpret its action.”