Washington Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor resigned Friday from an elite all-women’s club after Republicans questioned her participation in it.
Sotomayor said she resigned from the Belizean Grove to prevent the issue from becoming a distraction in her confirmation hearings.
In a letter to Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the federal appeals court judge said she is convinced that the club does not practice “invidious discrimination” and that her membership in it did not violate judicial ethics.
But she said she didn’t want questions about it to “distract anyone from my qualifications and record.”
Federal judges are bound by a code that says they shouldn’t join any organization that discriminates by race, sex, religion or nationality.
The Belizean Grove bills itself as women’s answer to the 130-year-old all-male Bohemian Club in California. The club owns a 2,500-acre camping area in northern California called the Grove. Chief Justice Earl Warren belonged to the Bohemian Club beginning in the 1940s, before he joined the court and long before the federal judiciary adopted a code of conduct.
“The Belizean Grove is a constellation of influential women who are key decision makers in the profit, non-profit and social sectors; who build long term mutually beneficial relationships in order to both take charge of their own destinies and help others to do the same,” the group says on its Web site. There are about 115 members, the club says.