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Mel WattThe next time someone tells you that the problem with D.C. politics is the refusal of President Obama and folks on what passes for the “left” to “compromise” with conservatives, ask them to read this Huffington Post article about the utterly absurd, take-no-prisoners obstructionism confronting a long and growing list of high-quality nominees put forth by the President to fill numerous vacancies on the federal courts and in other important agencies – including the national Housing Finance Agency position for which North Carolina Congressman Mel Watt (pictured at left) was nominated months ago.

 And, of course, it’s just coincidence that so many of the stonewalled nominees are women and people of color.

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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has filed a “cloture” motion on the filibuster that’s been blocking the nomination of Cornelia “Nina” Pillard to serve on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. This means that the Senate should vote around 5:30 this afternoon.

Unfortunately, conservatives in the Senate continue to adhere to their trasparently dishonest public argument that “the court doesn’t have enough cases to justify filling vacant seats” — an argument that continues to provoke almost universal disdain from a long list of mainstream experts and analysts.

The following, for instance, is from Richard Painter — a corproate law professor who served in the George W. Bush White House — writing for the American Constitution Society: 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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Mel WattAt long last, we now know the official conservative litmus test for responding to nominations and other official proposals submitted to congress: “if the President is for something, we’re against it.”

It’s really as simple as that. And heaven help any nominees who happen to be women and/or people of color.

If the true nature of the test wasn’t already long-apparent in the right’s transparently hypocritical opposition to the federal version of Romney/Heritage Care (i.e. the Affordable Care Act), the final, once-and-for-all confirmation came yesterday when Senate Republicans successfully filibustered the nomination of Congressman Mel Watt to serve as head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and then followed it up moments later with an equally absurd filibuster of the President’s nomination of a moderate, corporate lawyer named Patricia Millett to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

There was literally no good reason to oppose these nominations 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.