Webster Acknowledges Membership in Four Groups That Are Termed Biased

U.S. Circuit Court Judge William H. Webster, nominated by President Carter for a 10-year term as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, acknowledged yesterday that he was affiliated with four St. Louis clubs alleged to engage in discriminatory practices. But, he pointed out, none of them has “charter restrictions on membership at all.”

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the first session of hearings on his nomination, Webster said he would continue his membership in the clubs and “monitor them.” He said he had previously proposed resolutions against discrimination in the clubs. “I am sensitive to the problem and you have made me very aware of it,” Webster told Sen. Edward Kennedy (D. Mass.) who had asked the 52-year-old jurist to be “more elaborative” on membership in the four clubs. While the factor of membership of Blacks emerged at the hearings, there was no mention of Jews.

Webster said he belonged to the Society of Veiled Prophets which he described as founded a century ago by St. Louis businessmen to promote events that would attract people to the city; the Noonday Club, a luncheon group; the University Club; and the St. Louis Country Club.

In a brief interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Sen. Thomas Eagleton (D.Mo.), a member of the Judiciary Committee whose wife read a statement in support of Webster on behalf of the Senator and herself, said he knows of Jewish members in the Noonday and University Clubs and in the Society of Veiled Prophets but was “not sure” about the St. Louis Country Club.

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