Commentary

Editorial: “No excuse” for Richard Burr’s blockade of Judge Timmons-Goodson

Richard Burr 2There have now been dozens of editorials and op-eds in recent months and years calling on Richard Burr to end his absurd blockade of President Obama’s attempts to fill a decade-old vacancy on the federal bench in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Today, it’s the Winston-Salem Journal with a reprint of an editorial that the Greensboro News & Record featured last week.

“When Patricia Timmons-Goodson ran for a seat on the N.C. Supreme Court in 2006, she polled 58 percent of the vote. She’d already proven her mettle on the state Court of Appeals and as a District Court judge in her native Cumberland County.

President Barack Obama has nominated Timmons-Goodson to fill a vacant seat on the U.S. District Court bench in Raleigh. She is eminently well-qualified. She is a leader in the American Bar Association, a trustee at Guilford College and a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

But Sen. Richard Burr of Winston-Salem called the nomination “an election season stunt” and “a brazenly political nomination.”

If North Carolina residents want to know what Timmons-Goodson did that turned her from a distinguished, easily elected jurist to this political pariah, they won’t hear the reason from Burr. Instead, he issued a statement blaming Obama for breaking an agreement about appointments and not consulting with him before making the nomination.

There is no excuse for denying Timmons-Goodson a hearing, even if Obama failed to call him about the nomination. That might be a breach of protocol, but Burr is equally responsible because of his unreasonable positions on the Loretta Lynch and Merrick Garland nominations.

Perhaps election-year politics is playing an oversized role once again. On April 18, Timmons-Goodson joined a majority on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in issuing a strongly worded statement denouncing North Carolina’s House Bill 2. Maybe that action influenced Obama’s decision or Burr’s reaction. It shouldn’t have, because, as an experienced, fair-minded judge, Timmons-Goodson doesn’t let political considerations dictate her conduct on the bench. That’s what makes her a good choice for the federal court seat.

Burr should reconsider and support her confirmation, or else there may be political consequences for his recent pattern of obstructionism. It’s not likely he’ll do as well in November as winning 58 percent of the vote.”

 

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