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Settlement ends case after city found in violation

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Augusta commissioners voted to pay $120,000
to the attorneys of Martha Burk, who claimed the city improperly
restricted a protest against Augusta National's all-male
membership.

Burk, who heads the National Council of Women's Organizations,
filed a federal lawsuit against the city claiming that an ordinance
which kept her from protesting near the main gate of Augusta
National during last year's Masters violated her rights.

Local officials, citing security concerns, said the protest had
to be about half a mile from the club's gates.

"The taxpayers are now having to pick up the tab for Augusta
National's discrimination against women," Burk said Friday. "Our
attorneys did a very good job, and they deserve to be paid."

U.S. District Judge Dudley Bowen Jr. disagreed with Burk's claim
that the ordinance violated her constitutional rights. But a
three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found
that the ordinance improperly targeted political protests and gave
too much power to the sheriff and city attorney.

The city appealed that ruling to the full 11th Circuit Court,
but the court refused to hear the case.

The settlement effectively ends the lawsuit, said attorney Jim
Wall, who represented the city.

"It's a compromise on their part, it's a compromise on our
part," Wall said. "That's what a settlement is for. It resolves
the case."

Commissioners voted on the negotiated settlement Thursday after
a closed-door meeting.