If you haven’t already, be sure to check out this morning’s breaking news story on the main NC Policy Watch site by Courts and Law reporter Sharon McCloskey: “Another roadblock for the Eastern District?” 
As Sharon reports, Senate Judiciary Committee staff have indicated that Senator Richard Burr is blocking consideration of federal judicial nominee Jennifer May-Parker (a highly qualified African-American federal prosecutor) by refusing to return his “blue slip” — a step required by Senate procedures in order for the nomination to proceed to a hearing next week.
As we have explained before, the vacancy in the Eastern District is the longest standing federal district court vacancy in the country (it has stood vacant for 8 years!). To make matters even more absurd, there has never been a District Court judge of color in the Eastern District – this despite the fact that the region in question is home to a huge proportion of the state’s African-American population.
That Sen. Burr has refused to return his “blue slip” on such a qualified nominee without any public explanation – a decision that could sidetrack the appointment for many weeks or months – is simply absurd.
As Rev. William Barber of the NAACP told Sharon: “The qualifications of African-American candidates have never been the issue. Sadly, however, opportunity and the receptiveness of Senators to such an appointment have been. We’ve been waiting at least 145 years too long on this front. It’s time for the Eastern District to start looking like America and North Carolina.”
Let’s hope Burr, who has not previously been viewed as an obstructionist on these matters, comes to his senses shortly.