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President Carter speaks on Augusta issue

Former President Carter believes women eventually will be able to join Augusta National Golf Club.

"But the members themselves will have to make that decision," Carter said Tuesday.

Augusta National, home of the Masters, has been the center of a dispute for not allowing female members.

Martha Burk, head of the National Council of Women's Organizations, urged the club to invite a woman to join. Club chairman Hootie Johnson responded that he would not do so "at the point of a bayonet."

"I think that the present administration of the Masters has not been very wise with the statement," Carter said, referring to the club located in his home state of Georgia. "I think it should have been handled in a much more expeditious way and a harmonious way."

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Augusta, Ga., hoping to gain permission to protest at this month's Masters. The suit was filed on behalf of Burk after a sheriff denied her request to hold a one-day protest at the private club's front gate during the tournament.

The ACLU contends Augusta's law regulating public protests violates free-speech rights.

Carter was in Little Rock for the opening of the Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Stephens is a former chairman of Augusta National.


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