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Burr2Constitutional law professor Herman Schwartz has an excellent essay at Reuters.com about the battles over presidential appointments to the federal courts, the right’s decades-long and highly successful effort to capture this issue and the slowly-stirring effort by progressives to (finally, thank the lord!) respond.

As Schwartz notes, one positive development that may soon be on the agenda is the demise of that absurd and archaic U.S. Senate institution known as the “blue slip” — the system of “courtesy” whereby any single senator of either party may block a nominee from his or her own state without explanation.

As followers of N.C. Policy Watch are well aware, Senator Richard Burr has been one of the most egregious abusers of this silly rule for several months now with his outrageous and unexplained blockage of an African-American federal prosecutor named Jennifer May-Parker whom President Obama nominated to fill an eight-year-old vacancy on the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina last June.  Thus far, because of Burr’s silent refusal to give his blessing, May-Parker has not even received a hearing — a fact rendered all the more outrageous by the fact (noted in this space last week) that Burr endorsed her for the job in 2009!

Let’s hope senators act soon to repeal this absurd rule — something Republicans did when they were in charge of the Senate Judiciary during the Bush administration.  And let’s hope that this time, it’s a once-and-for-all decision.

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Richard Burr 2As reported last September by N.C. Policy Watch Courts and Law Reporter Sharon McCloskey and noted again here and here, Senator Richard Burr has been blocking without explanation the nomination of federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker to fill a vacancy on the Federal District Court for the North Carolina’s Eastern District. May-Parker, who would be the first African-American and only the second woman to serve on Eastern District bench, was first nominated by President Obama last June but has yet to receive a hearing in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee because Burr has refused to sign off by returning his “blue slip” to the committee (as is required by Senate practice and tradition).

Happily, it does not appear that the White House will be backing down from the nomination as Read More

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(Image courtesy of the Brennan Center)

(Image courtesy of the Brennan Center)

When last we left the conversation about the pending nomination of Jennifer May-Parker for the now 8-year long vacancy in North Carolina’s Eastern District, our own Sen. Richard Burr had yet to return the “blue slip” needed either to allow the nomination to proceed to a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee or to prevent that from happening.

May-Parker, you may recall, would be the first African-American to serve as a judge in the 44-county Eastern District, home to a significant minority population.

Unfortunately nothing’s changed. The senator still won’t commit.

It’s not that difficult a process, really.

As shown in the blue slip here, Burr just needs to check one or the other: approve, and allow the nominee to proceed to a hearing, or oppose, and clear the way for a new nominee.

But doing nothing means simply that May-Parker’s nomination will languish long enough to keep that seat open into the mid-term elections in November 2014.

By then, North Carolina will have two open federal court slots, with Middle District Judge James A. Beaty Jr. taking senior status in June.

And no judges of color in our federal courts.

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As noted in the post below, North Carolina Senator Richard Burr is blocking, without explanation, the nomination of federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker to be the first African-American judge in the history of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Sadly, as this infographic from the good folks at the Alliance for Justice in D.C. makes clear, the stonewalling of diverse court appointments by President Obama is a pernicious and widespread problem. Read More

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Richard Burr 2Senator Richard Burr’s one-man, secret filibuster of the nomination of federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker to serve as a U.S. District Court judge in North Carolina’s Eastern District continues. This is from this morning’s Wilmington Star-News:

“Jennifer May-Parker could make history as the first African-American U.S. District Court judge in the 44-county Eastern District of North Carolina and fill a vacancy that is nearly eight years old.

That is, if she can ever make it there.

President Obama appointed May-Parker to the bench in late June. May-Parker is currently chief of the Appellate Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District.

Both Sens. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., must take a procedural step and return a so-called “blue slip” on the nominee prior to her getting a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The blue slip is a piece of paper essentially asking the home-state senators if they support moving forward with the process. It is not necessarily an endorsement of the nominee, but requiring the blue slips to be returned is a long held practice of the committee, according to a judiciary committee aide.

Hagan has returned hers, but Burr is holding up the process – something called “blue slipping.”

As for why, well, Burr is not saying.”

As the story goes on to make clear, Read More