The New York Times wasn’t the only news outlet today — Day 285 of the Burr “blue slip” watch — to chastise U.S. Sen. Richard Burr for obstructing the judicial nomination process and refusing to return the traditional “blue slip” allowing his own nominee for a seat on the federal bench in eastern North Carolina, Jennifer May-Parker, to move to a Judiciary Committee hearing in the Senate.
The Asheville Citizen-Times editorial board gave Burr a grade of “F” for his tactics:
F to Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC, for his puzzling move to block filling the seat of a federal judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The seat has been vacant for more than eight years. In 2009 Burr recommended federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker to fill the seat. Last June President Obama nominated May-Parker. But she has yet to receive a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee because of the Senate’s “blue slip’’ tradition. The practice, dating to the early 20th century, means if a home-state senator doesn’t return a blue piece of paper signing off on a judicial nomination, the nominee doesn’t get a committee hearing, a step before heading to the Senate floor for a confirmation vote. Burr has changed his mind on May-Parker and hasn’t explained why. Thanks to this sort of stonewalling, there are more than 80 vacancies on the federal bench. Burr should explain his reasoning or the Senate should re-examine this practice, which isn’t even a formal rule.
And citizens too weighed in, voicing their own disapproval in letters to editors.
Reader Vicki Boyer reminded the senator in this letter in the Durham Herald Sun that women voters here are watching and waiting for more women judges, and warned that if he didn’t return his “blue slip” they may be sending him a “pink slip” come 2016:
That our senator, Richard Burr, would keep the entire U.S. Senate from having hearings on the appointment of Jennifer May-Parker as federal judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina is indicative of what is wrong in Washington.
Here we have a perfectly qualified candidate for the judiciary, originally approved by Burr, who cannot even get a hearing on the hill because Burr has flipped-flopped and won’t turn in his “blue slip” on her nomination. This senate “courtesy” to fellow senators has long been used to hold up nominations. That one person can hold up the work of the Senate and the judiciary for, in this case, reasons he refuses to explain is ridiculous.
I call upon Senator Burr to send in that blue slip or publicly explain himself. Our courts need May-Parker. She is very well qualified and a woman. Women are 54 percent of North Carolina’s registered voters. And we want to see more women sitting on the bench.
So, sign that blue slip, senator, or in 2016, women will be sending you a pink one.