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.
Burr_TRUMP
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.

News

Burr, Tillis take to social media to dismiss Merrick Garland, Obama’s Supreme Court nominee

North Carolina’s two U.S. Senators made it clear Wednesday that they would not be swayed by Merrick Garland’s qualifications into holding confirmation hearings for President Obama’s nomination to the highest court.

Both Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis believe that the next president and not Obama should make the pick to replace the late Antonin Scalia.  Here’s what each man posted to Facebook Wednesday after the nomination became known.

BURR_GARLAND Tillis_Garland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learn more about Merrick Garland in this piece by Policy Watch’s Rob Schofield.

Commentary

Richard Burr at the center of the most ridiculous (and telling) story of the weekend

Richard Burr 2Another “you can’t make this stuff up” story came to light this weekend in the saga of North Carolina’s monster voter suppression law.

As Lynn Bonner of Raleigh’s News & Observer reported:

“U.S. Sen. Richard Burr cast a ballot during the the early voting period for the North Carolina primary after going to a polling place without an acceptable form of identification.

Burr, a Republican from Winston-Salem running for re-election, cast a provisional ballot and filled out a ‘reasonable impediment’ form, state elections records show.

‘Sen. Burr discovered he lost his ID when he arrived at the polling location, but he went out and got a new drivers license,’ his spokeswoman said in an email.”

There are several obvious takeaways from this story.

Number One is that had Republicans not made their last minute move to add the “reasonable impediments” language to their voter ID law last summer in response to court challenges, Burr would have been out of luck.

Number Two is that the whole incident points out the absurdity of the voter ID law. There is no actual widespread fraud that the law will attack. Instead, thousands of people who lack ID like Burr — many of whom have been voting religiously since the senator was in short pants — will be discouraged from voting.

Number Three is: How does a United States Senator lose his driver’s license and forget about it before heading out to vote for himself? Let’s hope Burr has a few choice words for his Senate colleague, the former Speaker of the North Carolina House and architect of the suppression law — Thom Tillis — the next time the two are sipping lattes in the Senate cloakroom.

Finally, Number Four is this: Let’s hope all the judges who will ultimately rule on the constitutionality of the law become aware of the Burr situation and take it into their calculus in rendering the ultimate decisions in the matter.