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The saga of judicial obstructionism continues in Washington, thanks in large part to the stalling tactics of our own U.S. Sen. Richard Burr.

As we’ve reported often (see Rob Schofield’s most recent post here), the senator is inexplicably refusing to support one of his own selections, Jennifer May-Parker, to fill the now 8-year vacant seat on the federal court in the district serving eastern North Carolina.

Time and again, we’ve asked for an explanation as to why he was holding up the nomination of a woman who would be the first African-American to serve in that court — and, once U.S. Judge James Beaty takes senior status in June — the only African American judge to serve on the federal bench in the entire state.

Burr’s abuse of the judicial selection process is now bringing more negative national attention to the state. Yesterday, in a piece about continued intransigence getting judicial nominees confirmed — even in the absence of the filibuster — Newsweek magazine called out Burr as a singular example of what continues to plague Washington:

” . . . the May-Parker debacle stands out as a particularly egregious example of obstruction keeping the Obama administration from filling dozens of vacancies across the country despite a years-long judicial vacancy crisis.”

That’s notoriety North Carolina could do without.

 

Burr2It’s hard to know what’s worse when it comes to Senator Richard Burr’s ongoing, one-man filibuster of the woman who would be the first African-American federal judge in the history of North Carolina’s Eastern District: the very fact of the blockade itself or the remarkably dishonest way in which the Senator is going about it.

It’s now been almost five years since Burr specifically endorsed Jennifer May-Parker (a federal prosecutor based in Raleigh) for the job to President Obama. Yet, since Obama actually made the nomination last June, Burr has steadfastly refused to submit his “blue slip” — something the quaint rules of the U.S. Senate require from home state senators in order for the nominations process to move forward.

While inexcusable enough on its own, Burr’s tight-lipped blockade is rendered downright outrageous by his duplicitous explanations for his actions. Recently, a friend of NC Policy Watch who wrote Burr on the subject, received a letter in response in which Burr, amazingly enough, said  the following: Read More

A new press release from the North Carolina NAACP:

NC NAACP Releases Letter Calling on Sen. Richard Burr to Stop Blocking a Vote on Ms. Jennifer May-Parker’s Candidacy to Fill an Open Seat on the U.S. District Court for Eastern North Carolina

RALEIGH – The North Carolina NAACP released a letter today urging Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) to stop blocking the congressional confirmation vote of Ms. Jennifer May-Parker for the U.S. district court judgeship in Eastern North Carolina.

Reverend Dr. William J. Barber, II and the state conference also call upon the NC NAACP’s partner organizations and other people of conscience to contact Sen. Burr and let him know that they oppose his continued efforts to obstruct the appointment of a well-qualified African-American attorney to the court seat.

“The North Carolina NAACP, the people of North Carolina, say today that we will never stand by as justice is delayed,” Dr. Barber said on Jan. 25 when he announced the initiative. “Because justice delayed is justice denied.” Read More

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

Policy Watch has written plenty about Sen. Richard Burr’s stonewalling of a nominee whom he’d previously supported for the federal bench in eastern North Carolina  – a turnabout that’s left many scratching their heads.

Particularly disconcerting is the senator’s apparent refusal to heed his own words uttered  back in 2005, when he told his colleagues that “denying judicial nominees of both parties, who seek to serve their country, an up-or-down vote, simply is not fair.  It was certainly not the intention of our Founding Fathers when they designed and created this very institution.”

Yet that’s exactly what he’s done by failing to return the blue slip for Jennifer May-Parker, raising doubts that Burr really means what he says.

Now it appears that Burr and others in the U.S. Senate who’ve resorted to the blue slip as their own type of filibuster have pushed too far.

According to this report, members of the Congressional Black Caucus will ask the Sen. Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to process nominations and send them on to a committee hearing without approval from both on a nominee’s home state senators, effectively ending the blue slip tradition.

Here’s more:

Fudge and other members of the Black Caucus say GOP Senators including Marco Rubio of Florida and Richard Burr of North Carolina used the “blue slip” procedure to block the nominations of qualified African-Americans they previously endorsed for judgeships.

Rubio said he switched his stance on William Thomas’ nomination of because he had questions about Thomas’ judicial temperament and willingness to impose appropriate sentences. Burr has not explained his reasons for withholding his support for Jennifer May-Parker’s nomination.

Congressional Black Caucus members blame their actions on politics.

“They are abusing the process just because they have the power to do it,” says Fudge, adding that the Black Caucus will ask Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont to suspend use of the “blue slip” custom, as has been done in the past.

North Carolina Democratic Rep. G. K. Butterfield, a Black Caucus member, said the U.S. Senate has failed to act on more than a dozen of President Obama’s African-American nominees, and the strategy is being used to “keep quality African-Americans from getting confirmed.”

“This is a matter of particular concern this year,” agreed Eleanor Holmes Norton, another Black Caucus member who serves as the District of Columbia’s non-voting Democratic delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. “More than any other thing a president can do, an appointment to the bench can cement his legacy.”