Even Richard Burr is now openly criticizing HB2

Richard Burr 2It would appear that recent poll numbers and the increasingly formidable challenge that he is facing from Democratic Party nominee Deborah Ross are forcing Senator Richard Burr to break with Gov. McCrory and state legislative leaders.

The Huffington Post reports that Burr was highly critical of HB2 in an interview yesterday:

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said Tuesday that Republican lawmakers in his state went too far when they passed a sweeping anti-LGBT law this year, and said they need to rein it in before a judge does it for them.

“Yeah, I’ve got issues,” Burr told The Huffington Post when asked if he has problems with his state’s new law, also known as HB 2.

“The legislature botched what they were trying to do,” he said. “It was far too expansive….”

Burr has largely avoided talking about the law. He previously said he was out of the country when it passed; stated it’s up to the courts to decide if it’s valid; suggested it doesn’t actually discriminate; and declared it a state issue.

On Tuesday, though, he was clear that he wasn’t happy with it. He also predicted that the law is going to be changed one way or another, so the question now is which branch of government does it.

“It will be decided one of two ways: through the courts, where everybody’s chosen to place it now, or the General Assembly and the Charlotte City Council getting together and solving what was blundered on both sides,” Burr said.

Not surprisingly, Burr went on to make some other less insightful comments — blaming Charlotte officials and President Obama (naturally) for their roles in the controversy — but he also explained that he thought the Charlotte City Council made the right move in not repealing the non-discrimination ordinance that HB2 targeted this week:

“To repeal it before you know what the General Assembly is going to do would be a mistake,” he said, hopping into a Senate train car taking him away from reporters. “That’s why it’s got to be the General Assembly and the City of Charlotte getting together and coming up with an agreed-upon package.”


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.”



HB2 continues to confuse, divide conservatives: Burr rebukes McCrory

burrMcCrory_budget305-aWhen HB2 was passed in March, it was conservatives who were united and progressives who were divided over the issue in North Carolina. As many will recall, the law was passed with several Democratic votes in the state House.

Now, less than two months later, things have changed dramatically. While progressives have come together in concluding that the new law is a legal and political disaster and around proposals to repeal it, conservatives are all over the place. Some want to repeal it, some want to rewrite it, some want to double down with the law and some just want the whole thing to go away.

The two poster children for the last two categories are clearly Governor Pat McCrory and Senator Richard Burr. In recent days, McCrory appears to have abandoned his former stance as a reluctant HB2 warrior and gone all in with the law — apparently deciding that he will make his reelection campaign a referendum on the discriminatory law.

Burr, on the other hand, seems to have no such interest. For the most part, he has distanced himself from the law — at one point responding to a reporter’s question about the issue by declaring “Oh, I’m not getting into that crap.”

Now, yesterday, Burr specifically rejected Gov. McCrory’s repeated suggestion that the solution to North Carolina’s dilemma lies in congressional action. This is from a story yesterday on the Washington news site, Roll Call:

“North Carolina’s senior senator said his state’s Gov. Pat McCrory is “off base” in calling for congressional intervention to resolve a state dispute over restroom access for transgender people.

‘I’ve never seen Congress get involved in judicial matters and this is turned over to the court system now,’ Republican Sen. Richard M. Burr said Tuesday. ‘So, I think the governor’s off base.’”

Burr’s stance of just wanting the whole thing to go away was, of course, echoed yesterday by the conservative pols running the University of North Carolina.

The bottom line: It’s looking more and more like HB2 could end up being just as destructive a force amongst North Carolina conservatives in 2016 as a certain New York real estate magnate. Stay tuned.

Commentary, News

National conservative website to Burr and Tillis: Time to confirm Obama’s Supreme Court nominee

Merrick Garland

Judge Merrick Garland

The latest sign that Richard Burr, Thom Tillis and their fellow GOP senators have lost in their effort to prevent consideration of President Obama’s nomination of federal judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court emerged yesterday as the national conservative website Red State officially threw in the towel. Here’s Red State managing editor Leon Wolf:

“Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee, this is not even a close call. There is absolutely no reason to drag this out any longer. Garland is not a great choice, but he is not a terrible one, either. And more than anything, he is old (for a modern Supreme Court appointment) and will be up for replacement in probably 10 years instead of 20 or 30.

Republicans must know that there is absolutely no chance that we will win the White House in 2016 now. They must also know that we are likely to lose the Senate as well. So the choices, essentially, are to confirm Garland and have another bite at the apple in a decade, or watch as President Clinton nominates someone who is radically more leftist and 10-15 years younger, and we are in no position to stop it.

In fact, if I were the Republicans, my main concern right now would be that Barack Obama would withdraw Garland’s nomination today. The fact that Merrick Garland still exists as an option right now is a gift that should not be squandered.

The calculus has changed – confirm Merrick Garland before it is too late.”

You can learn lots more about this vital subject by attending next Tuesday’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversion luncheon on the nomination with nationally known Supreme Court expert, Prof. Michael Gerhardt. Click here for more information.


Advocates for Merrick Garland nomination holding “Do Your Job” tour to push Burr, Tillis

Merrick Garland

Judge Merrick Garland

In case you missed it, advocates at Progress NC will be helping to spearhead a series of events around the state this week to combat the ongoing blockade by Senators Burr and Tillis of the nomination of federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland to serve on the Supreme Court. As is explored in some detail in this morning’s Weekly Briefing, the hypocrisy of the Garland blockade and the stated excuse (that the Senate shouldn’t act during an election year) continues to set hit new lows — especially given that Senator Burr, in particular, continues take all sorts of important lawmaking actions at the same time that he runs for election this November. Similarly, Gov. Pat McCrory has continued to make numerous appointment here in North Carolina — including many state judges — despite being up for election this fall.

This week, the good folks at Progress North Carolina will kick off a “mobile billboard tour” that will feature stops in multiple cities to demand that Burr and Tillis do their jobs, meet with Garland, and hold a hearing on the nomination. Events will be held at the following times and locations:

Wednesday, May 4th @ noon – Pearl Street Park
1200 Baxter St, Charlotte, North Carolina

Wednesday, May 4th @ 5:00 p.m. – Pack Square Park
Asheville, North Carolina

Thursday, May 5th @ noon – Guilford County Courthouse
201 S Eugene St, Greensboro, North Carolina

Friday, May 6th @ 3:00 p.m. – Governor’s Mansion
200 N Blount St, Raleigh, North Carolina

Saturday, May 7th @ 4:00 p.m. – Pitt County Courthouse

N 3rd St Between Washington and S Evan St, Greenville, North Carolina

To learn more, visit the group’s Facebook page by clicking here.

You can also learn much more about the Garland nomination at next Tuesday’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation luncheon:

A conversation with nationally acclaimed scholar, author and commentator Michael Gerhardt: The Merrick Garland nomination and its implications for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Click here for more information.