Cebull said that while he can see that the email was racist, he forwarded it because of political differences.

"The only reason I can explain it to you is I am not a fan of our president, but this goes beyond not being a fan," Cebull said. "I didn't send it as racist, although that's what it is. I sent it out because it's anti-Obama."

Nevertheless, the Montana judge admitted that it was a mistake to forward the email.

"This is a private thing that was, to say the least, very poor judgment on my part," Cebull said. "I did not forward it because of the racist nature of it. Although it is racist, I'm not that way, never have been."

Cebull was appointed to the bench by former President George W. Bush in 2001. He insisted in the interview with the Tribune that race did not influence his legal judgment.

"I have never considered myself that way," Cebull said. "All I can emphasize is I've treated people in my courtroom all these years fairly. I don't think I've ever demonstrated racism. Nobody has ever even implied it."

Cebull's comments were denounced in a statement from the chairmen of the Congressional Black, Hispanic, and Asian-Pacific American caucuses Thursday.

"Chief Judge Richard Cebull's email was deplorable, shameful and inexcusable.  There is no way to shroud hatred under the cloak of differences in ideals. The email was blatantly racist and filled with the hateful rhetoric this country has strived so desperately to leave behind. An apology alone is not acceptable," said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. 

Updated at 5:28 p.m.