It’s been 3,924 days since a federal judgeship in the Eastern District of North Carolina was left vacant. That’s more than 10 years for those who aren’t good at math, or, in layman’s terms, it’s the longest unfilled federal vacancy in the nation.
Today marks five months since former Supreme Court of North Carolina Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson was nominated by President Barack Obama to fill the vacancy and five months since North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr announced he would block her nomination.
Why, you ask? It’s not really clear, but Burr has said publicly that it has something to do with a deal he made with Obama, who allegedly declined to honor it. It’s the second nomination to fill the vacancy Burr has blocked, and it’s worth noting that both nominees have been African American women.
In the meantime, it’s the people and the businesses in the Eastern District who continue to suffer – not the president on his last leg. The U.S. Courts declared a judicial emergency there years ago.
Timmons-Goodson has earned the American Bar Association’s highest rating of “well-qualified,” and would be the first person of color to serve as a federal judge in the state’s eastern district.
In the words of Glenn Sugameli, a senior staff attorney at Defenders of Wildlife and expert in federal judicial selection, “It is literally true that justice delayed is justice denied.”