Possible Nominees for District Judge Accused of Bias Against Jews, Other Minorities

Rep. Glenn R. Davis, considered a possible nominee for judge of the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Wisconsin has been accused by four Wisconsin organizations of being anti-Semitic and prejudiced against Blacks and Italians. The Milwaukee Jewish Council, the Wisconsin State Conference of Branches of NAACP, the Wisconsin Regional Board of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, and the Pompeii Men’s Club, representing Italians, announced in the press their opposition to the possible appointment of Davis, a Wisconsin Republican. They charged he held deep prejudices against these minority groups and that he has demonstrated a lack of judicial temperament and the standards of a United States district judge. Davis, who reportedly has been cleared by the Justice Department and has had his name referred to the American Bar Association, claimed he was not prejudiced and that the accusations were politically motivated. A telegram sent to President Nixon by Roy Wilkins, National Chairman of the NAACP, stated that Davis lacked the “ability to administer equal justice without regard to race, creed or national origin. The nomination of a man like Mr. Davis to the Federal Judiciary can only undermine respect for law and the courts.” The Jewish Council also released the text of a letter written to Attorney General Mitchell in June. The letter charged that Davis accused the late Sen. Alexander Wiley (R-Wis.), in 1956 of acting as an agent of a foreign country because Wiley spoke at an Israel Bond Dinner.

The Council letter also included a complaint that in November 1962, Davis, then in private law practice in Waukesha. Wisconsin, wrote on behalf of a client to the credit manager of a building company in Wisconsin who had requested payment of an obligation and included in his letter the statement that “we do not particularly expect a response in the language of a Jewish bill collector.” The home office of the building company, located in Minnesota, contacted the executive director of the Minnesota Jewish Community Relations Council. When the director wrote a letter to Davis about Davis’ anti-Semitic language, Davis insulted the director by labelling him as a “professional Jew,” a phrase questioning not only the director’s leadership status but also his personal status as a Jew. Davis made no effort to apologize to the credit manager or the community relations director until almost one year later when the Capitol Times, of Madison, Wis., published an article relating the incident. Davis had just announced his candidacy for representative of the 11th district of Wisconsin and claimed that the article was politically motivated, Davis said his phrase “Jewish bill collector” referred to the character of Shylock in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, who wanted a pound of flesh and that he did not consider the remark to be anti-Semitic. In an interview last week, Davis challenged any individual to prove that he discriminated against anyone on the basis of race, color or creed.

Davis then cited two exceptions which he termed “unfortunate incidents.” Those were of the 1956 accusation of Wiley and the letter in 1962 in which he called the credit manager a “Jewish bill collector.” Davis again stated that all of the charges against him were politically motivated. Several days ago, Sen. Birch Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, said that he had urged President Nixon not to appoint Davis to a federal judgeship. Bayh said he sent a letter to Nixon earlier last week stating: “Davis has not demonstrated the high standards of temperament and impartiality that we must demand from all federal judges. I urge you not to send his name to the Senate, Bayh said it was his responsibility as a member of the Senate that the credibility of the legal institutions be held as high as possible. Bayh, who led campaigns to defeat Nixon’s nomination of Clement F. Haynsworth, Jr. and G. Harold Carswell to the U.S. Supreme Court, said he would lead a similar fight to prevent Davis’ nomination, if necessary. The Indian Democrat made this disclosure at a press conference preceding a testimonial dinner by the Jewish National Fund of Wisconsin for Attorney Harry G. Samson, a leader of the Jewish community and president of the First National Bank of Glendale, Gov. Patrick Lucey, the main speaker at the dinner, asked to comment on Bayh’s attack on Davis, said he would be “disappointed if President Nixon saw fit to nominate Rep. Davis for a judicial post.” Davis was out of town and could not be reached for comment.

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