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.