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NY Times blasts Burr’s judicial blockade, calls for reform

Richard Burr 2In case you missed it, the New York Times editorialized this morning against Richard Burr’s ongoing and inexplicable one-man filibuster of federal judicial nominee Jennifer May-Parker and called for the U.S. Senate to reform its archaic “blue slip” process that allows home state senators to block court appointees without explanation:

“The job of federal judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina has been vacant for more than eight years, one of the longest vacancies of 83 on the federal bench around the country. Last June, President Obama nominated Jennifer May-Parker, a federal prosecutor, for the position, but she hasn’t even received a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee because Richard Burr, the state’s Republican senator, is blocking her.

The strange part is that Mr. Burr himself recommended her for the seat in 2009. But now he’s changed his mind and won’t say why, exploiting an archaic Senate tradition to make sure Mr. Obama can’t fill that vacancy.

That tradition, known as the blue slip, gives senators the ability to block any judicial nomination in their state, no explanation necessary, before it even reaches the stage of a committee hearing — never mind the Senate floor. There’s no formal rule enshrining this tradition, and the committee’s chairman, Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat of Vermont, could end it tomorrow. But he has inexplicably clung to the practice, preventing worthy nominees from being confirmed and allowing petty Republican politics to reduce Mr. Obama’s influence on the bench….

It doesn’t have to be this way. Mr. Leahy claims that the Senate will always defer to home-state senators. But, if he were to eliminate the practice, he would force senators to raise their objections publicly.

Now they hide behind a procedure that allows them to block able nominees because they want one of their cronies to get the job, or don’t want liberals or minorities on the bench or are afraid that any appearance of collaboration would rile the Tea Party.

Senators with real complaints should state them on the floor and hope to persuade a majority. At the moment, unfortunately, Republicans believe they have a serious chance of regaining the Senate in November, and they seem to have no interest in approving any of Mr. Obama’s judicial nominations through the end of his term. That’s an abuse of the system, and Mr. Leahy is running out of time to stop it.”

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

One Comment


  1. carolinasistah

    March 31, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    It’s funny how this process is a stepping-stone when a Republican is doing the blocking. Is the process not the same if the person blocking a nomination is Democrat?

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