Commentary, News

President nominates veteran state court judge to federal bench; Burr (surprise!) will block

Justice Timmons-Goodson.jpg

Patricia Timmons-Goodson

Ho hum. Another day in which President Obama nominates a respected and highly qualified jurist to the federal bench; another day in which North Carolina’s senior senator makes himself look foolish in announcing he will block the nomination. And, of course, the fact that she would be the first person of color to serve as a federal judge in the two and a quarter centuries they’ve had them in eastern North Carolina has nothing to do with it.

AP’s Gary Robertson reports:

“President Barack Obama’s latest pick Thursday to fill a longstanding vacancy in eastern North Carolina’s federal courts already appears scuttled by Republican Sen. Richard Burr, who blames the president for not acting in good faith.

The White House announced Obama had nominated former state Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson of Fayetteville to become a U.S. District judge in the Eastern District.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Timmons-Goodson would fill a seat that’s been empty for more than 10 years. The president’s 2013 nomination of Jennifer May-Parker for the judgeship was never heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Late Thursday, Burr said the nomination is a ‘transparent attempt to turn the Eastern District vacancy into an election season stunt” and that he “will not support a new nomination in North Carolina from this administration.'”

Richard Burr 2Timmon-Goodson’s nomination is actually one of several of high quality that the President put forward yesterday. Senator Burr, however, claims there was some kind of “deal” between him and Obama years ago over court nominees and has been using this excuse to keep the people of eastern North Carolina under-served and deprived of their first federal judge of color in North Carolina history for years. You really can’t make this stuff up.

Earth to Richard Burr: The only thing that’s “transparent'” in the mess surrounding your absurd and endless blockade of federal court nominees is your lack of regard for the truth and the people of North Carolina.  Judge Timmons-Goodson would be an outstanding and mold-breaking federal judge and yet all you can think of are your own petty grudges and gripes. Your performance in these matters has been a grave disservice to the citizens you swore to represent.

Commentary

John Kasich joins Haley in rebuking McCrory on HB 2; Spellings worries; Burr utters two falsehoods

NO-HB2The news regarding his LGBT discrimination law didn’t get much better for Gov. Pat McCrory over the weekend. Just days after South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley rejected his decision to sign HB2, one of the nation’s highest profile Republicans followed suit. Here’s Ohio Governor and presidential candidate John Kasich on CBS News’ Face the Nation:

“In our state, we’re not facing this, so everybody needs to take a deep breath, respect one another, and the minute we start trying to write laws, things become more polarized, things – they become more complicated. Obviously I don’t want to force people to violate their deeply held religious convictions, but we’d have to see what that’s all about. I wouldn’t have signed that law from everything I know, I haven’t studied it.”

Kasich’s rebuke of McCrory comes on the heels of a similar statement by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley last week. As the Fayetteville Observer’s Tim White opined in an excellent essay yesterday:

“I wonder if we could lure Nikki Haley across the state line and get her to run for governor here. She gets it. Our guy is dazed and confused – and apparently clueless about the damage he’s done.”

In another positive development, even UNC President Margaret Spelllings has started to raise questions about the new law as well.

Meanwhile, in other news on the new law, North Carolina Senator Richard Burr told a pair of whoppers over the weekend. According to the Charlotte Observer, Burr told reporter Jim Morrill that the matter is a “state issue” and in the next breath, that it wouldn’t deter businesses from coming to North Carolina. But, of course, both of these statements are false. HB 2 is clearly a national issue — that’s why Kasich and Haley are getting asked about it. And as for not deterring businesses from coming to North Carolina, perhaps Burr should explain that to PayPal or one of the other scores of companies that have weighed in against the law.

Commentary

Richard Burr revives his silence routine on LGBT discrimination law

US Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

US Sen. Richard Burr

For a man beholden to millions of his fellow citizens for his job, North Carolina’s senior senator, Richard Burr, has a strangely introverted and secretive side when it comes to some important matters of public policy.

For years now, Burr has been blocking appointments to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Federal Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, while refusing to explain why. When last pressed on the matter by a reporter, Burr responded that the issue was “between him and the White House.”  That’s funny, it would seem instead that it is a matter between Burr and the 10 million North Carolinians he represents (or, at least, the three-or-so million who live in the Eastern District).

Now, this week, Burr is at it again. When asked earlier this week for his views on North Carioliona’s newly enacted LGBT discrimination law (i.e. the biggest controversy to hit his state in years and one that is chock full of important federal constitutional questions) here is what happened:

“…Burr told The Associated Press on Monday after a Raleigh-area event that he’s been out of the country and knows little about the law. But he says the law is a state matter and doesn’t involve federal issues.”

Uh, sorry Dick, did you say “doesn’t involve federal issues”? That would be, in a word, hogwash.

As reported by numerous media outlets, the  new law quite likely places billions of federal dollars at risk as a result of its violation of various federal laws and is also direct affront to the United States (i.e. federal) Constitution.  That’s why it’s being challenged in federal court.

Of course, we know the reason for Burr’s “who, me?” routine. The Senator knows that the law is a disaster and is headed for repeal, but he’s afraid to tick off the religious right base. He’s hoping to hunker down and ride out the storm from a safe distance as he has done with multiple other issues during his long tenure in D.C.

Stay tuned. It will be fascinating to see if he gets away with this old dodge yet again.

 

News

Does Trump’s latest primary win make things harder for Richard Burr? (Audio)

Donald Trump’s victory in Arizona on Tuesday helped further cement his front-runner status in the Republican presidential nomination.

His win also coincides with a new general election poll for the US Senate race in North Carolina that finds a Trump victory could make life harder for other Republican candidates down ballot this fall.

Public Policy Polling notes that U.S. Senator Richard Burr, who currently enjoys a five point lead over Democratic challenger Deborah Ross, has indicated that he will support the Republican nominee for President regardless of who it is.

However PPP found that 48 percent of voters said they would be less likely to vote for Burr if he supports Trump for President.
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Another obstacle is the possibility that neither Trump, Cruz or Kasich secure the 1,237 delegates to win the party’s nomination outright leading to a brokered convention this summer.

Catawba College political scientist Michael Bitzer believes the establishment wants to avoid that at all costs. Click below to hear more from Policy Watch’s recent radio interview with Dr. Bitzer:

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For more on the delegate count for the Republicans and Democratic presidential candidates, check out Nate Silver’s blog at FiveThirtyEight.com.

Commentary

Editorials, op-eds, cartoons blast Burr/Tillis for blockade of Supreme Court nominee

Editorial boards across North Carolina have blasted the U.S. Senate refusal to consider Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in recent days.

Here’s the Greensboro News & Record:

“There is no precedent for the Republican position and no logic behind it. The next president will fill court vacancies that occur during his or her term; the current president doesn’t pass that responsibility to his successor.

The Senate should work the same way and do its job now. Yet, Republicans say the next Senate should carry out the constitutional duty of advise and consent — unless they decide to act as lame ducks after the election. What hypocrisy.”

And after noting the statements of GOP senators who say they might be open to consideration of Garland in a lame duck session after the election, the Charlotte Observer said this:

“It all underscores the hollow, phony quality of GOP leaders’ protestations that their no-hearings stance is “about the principle, not the person,” as our own Sen. Thom Tillis put it.

The real principle has nothing to do with Obama’s lame-duck status, of course. The real animating principle is the same one that has driven the GOP the past seven years: Obama is the enemy. Whatever he wants, block it – even if sensible compromises or the occasional well-qualified nominee gets trampled in the process.”

And here’s Washington Post conservative George Will, from this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“The Republican Party’s incoherent response to the Supreme Court vacancy is a partisan reflex in search of a justifying principle. The multiplicity of Republican rationalizations for their refusal to even consider Merrick Garland radiates insincerity.”

But perhaps the best and most on-the-money take comes from N&O editorial cartoonist Dwayne Powell. Click here to check out his March 20th skewering of Burr and Tillis.