The Senate Judiciary Committee was absolutely correct yesterday to reject the nomination of Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. As a U.S. district court judge in Miami, Judge Ryskamp demonstrated at best a too-narrow view of the protection the law and the Constitution give to minorities and women. At worst his record demonstrated prejudice elevated above legal thinking. In either event, he was overruled by the court of appeals on enough occasions for a disturbing pattern to emerge.
In addition to the judicial record, there was evidence of personal insensitivity that would disqualify for a judgeship even the greatest of legal minds. After he became a judge, Mr. Ryskamp continued membership in a Coral Gables country club which "notoriously" discriminated against blacks and Jews, and he was quoted as using derogatory language in public about Cuban-Americans.
Membership by judges or would-be judges in discriminatory clubs has been frowned on for years. The American Bar Association's Model Code of Judicial Conduct specifically forbids it. The Judiciary Committee has an obligation to reject all such nominees in every district and circuit.