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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

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Raleigh’s News & Observer was kind enough to publish this morning an essay I wrote on Richard Burr’s ongoing and inexcusable silent filibuster of President Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

If you haven’t checked it out, I hope you will by clicking here.

One thing I didn’t have space to mention in the N&O piece, however, is that Burr’s absurd obstructionism is part of a broader and pernicious pattern; the GOP has been blocking and delaying Obama’s court nominees simply as a matter of course for years. Even nominees who end up getting confirmed unanimously often find themselves waiting for months (or even years) for a simple hearing and up or down vote that ought to take a matter of weeks.

To see the extent of the ongoing and growing national judicial vacancy crisis, check out the “Why Courts Matter” website maintained by the good folks at the Center for American Progress.

One warning: The information contained therein may provoke you to put your fist through your computer monitor.