NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Rep. Stacy Campfield may seem an unlikely candidate for his state's black caucus (search). But the white Republican said he wants to join the group to serve a segment of his constituency better.
But Campfield's membership to the caucus was rejected and the state representative says it's because of the color of his skin.
"Only blacks can become full members — full and equal members," Campfield said. "I think that's the definition of racism."
Click on the video box on the right to view a report by FOX News' Jonathan Serrie.
The chairman of the caucus, Johnny Shaw, says at first he dismissed Campfield's request as a joke. Now, however, he thinks Campfield has other motives.
"I think the issue is money. He probably wants to know how we spend our money," Shaw said.
Shaw pointed out that the caucus meetings are open to anyone, and that the group offers honorary memberships.
But he has not changed his initial decision to deny Campfield a full membership.
In one press interview, Campfield compared the caucus' membership policies to that of the Ku Klux Klan (search), a statement that drew the ire of the NAACP (search), which demanded that the freshman representative resign.
Stefanie Lindquist, a professor of law and political science at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, said the case sets the Constitution against itself.
"You have, in effect, one piece of the Constitution pitted against another piece of the Constitution — the First Amendment freedom of association pitted against the equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment," she said. "Hard to say which one will win out."