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Burr2It’s becoming increasingly clear that at some point, Senator Richard Burr is going to have to explain his one-man, silent filibuster of the nomination of federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker to serve on the federal District Court for North Carolina’s Eastern District.

As this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer reports, the Congressional Black Caucus is now weighing in full force on the issue:

“U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield says the Congressional Black Caucus is discussing how to break the logjam over the nomination of Jennifer May-Parker to the fill the federal district court judicial vacancy in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Read More

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.

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

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has its newest justice. Patricia Millett was confirmed by the Senate this morning on a bipartisan vote of 56-38. The vote was made possible as a result of the Senate’s long-overdue decision to alter its rules so that Senators can no longer filibuster judicial nominees (except to the Supreme Court) and other presidential nominees to lead various agencies.

The rule change should lead to a similar vote — perhaps as early as later today — on the long-stalled nomination of Congressman Mel Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

The national advocacy/watchdog group, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is hosting a panel discussion on Judicial Diversity this afternoon/evening from 4pm – 6:30pm in downtown Charlotte at the Gantt Center. This event is free, and refreshments will be served.

The panel will feature five diverse state and federal judges serving in North Carolina who will share their experiences with students, professionals, and advisors, as well as persons who may be curious about careers on the bench.  Panelists will discuss their own career backgrounds and paths to the bench.  After the panel discussion, the judges will lead break-out sessions where they will engage one-on-one with audience members potentially interested in becoming future judges.

Barbara Arnwine, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee, will be giving opening remarks.

Panelists will include: Yvonne Mims Evans, Resident Superior Court Judge, Judicial District 26; Calvin E. Murphy, Special Superior Court Judge For Complex Business Cases; Regan A. Miller, Chief District Court Judge, Mecklenburg County; Rickeye McKoy-Mitchell, District Court Judge, Mecklenburg County; and Theresa Holmes-Simmons, Judge, United States Immigration Court.

Questions? Please contact the Lawyers’ Committee folks at judicialdiversity@lawyerscommittee.org