Commentary

Editorial: Hypocritical Burr should pledge not to vote on important matters until after election

Richard Burr 2The Greensboro News & Record hits the nail on the head this morning with a lead editorial deriding the absurd hypocrisy of Senators Richard Burr, Thom Tillis and others on the question of the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia:

“’In this election year, the American people will have an opportunity to have their say in the future direction of our country,’ Burr said in a statement released by his office Monday. ‘For this reason, I believe the vacancy left open by Justice Antonin Scalia should not be filled until there is a new president.’

That notion is both wrong and a political miscalculation.

There is no precedent for denying presidents the chance to appoint justices to the court in the final year of their presidency. They have done so several times, most recently in 1988 when the Senate unanimously confirmed President Ronald Reagan’s choice of current Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Someone could just as credibly argue that Burr, who’s running for re-election this year, should leave important votes to whomever the people of North Carolina choose for his seat in November. But that’s absurd. Burr was elected to a full term; so was Obama. They shouldn’t stop doing their jobs just because their terms are running out. Obama will be in office for 11 more months — plenty of time for the nomination and confirmation of a Supreme Court justice, and too long to leave a vacancy.”

And here’s the excellent conclusion:

“The president should make it as difficult as possible for the Republicans to get away with it. He can, and should, nominate someone with stellar credentials, a compelling personal story and mainstream legal views, with whom the Senate and the American public can find no legitimate objections. One person mentioned is Greensboro native Loretta Lynch, who has had an outstanding career, but her confirmation as attorney general last year was contentious. Obama can find a centrist judge who was already confirmed to a lower court with Republican support.

Americans now know Republicans have staked out their opposition to any candidate, sight unseen. They can judge whether members of the Senate are carrying out their constitutional responsibility to fairly weigh the merits of a presidential nominee. North Carolina voters can ask Burr why he thinks obstruction is part of his job description.

Scalia’s replacement may shift the court’s ideological balance, but so will the next justice, and the next, and the next. Elections do matter, and Obama is the elected president now. This appointment should be his.”

Commentary

The Burr blockade continues: NC federal court vacancy now approaching 10 years

Richard Burr 2As has been documented on this website numerous times, North Carolina Senator Richard Burr has been blocking, literally without explanation, President Obama’s attempt to fill a vacancy on the federal court in North Carolina’s Eastern District for years. It’s gotten so absurd (we are now approaching 10 years in which the court and the citizens of eastern North Carolina have been short staffed) that the White House appears to have given up, for now, in even appointing someone.

Fortunately, however, advocates for justice and sanity haven’t given up. As the Winston-Salem Chronicle reports, women of the NAACP spoke out yet again this week:

“[NC NAACP Executive Director Michelle] Laws recounted how in 2009, Burr first recommended federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker, chief of the Appellate Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District in North Carolina, to fill one of over 80 open U.S. District Court seats in the federal judiciary.

If confirmed, May-Parker would have become the first black female federal judge in the history of the Eastern District.

But once President Obama nominated her in 2013, Burr then inexplicably flipped, taking steps to block May–Parker’s nomination, denying her a committee hearing, and ultimately forcing it to die after approximately 300 days.

Newspapers across the state blasted Sen. Burr for not only blocking the nomination, but also never explaining why he did it.”

Burr’s silent stonewalling continues to this day. And sadly, his inexcusable behavior is clearly part of a pattern. According to the most recent data compiled by the folks at the Alliance for Justice, the across-the-board GOP blockade of Obama judicial nominees has now reached the point of true absurdity.

Commentary

Editorial blasts Burr, Tillis for “ridiculous” obstruction of AG nominee Lynch

#ConfirmLoretta2The Charlotte Observer is the latest large media outlet to speak out against the absurd and offensive blockade Attorney General nominee and North Carolina native Loretta Lynch by GOP senators.

The Observer rightfully terms the blockade — which is even opposed by notorious left-wingers like Orrin Hatch, Lindsay Graham and Rudolph Giuliani — a “ridiculous” exercise in toxic politics and political hostage taking.

As this morning’s editorial notes:

“Critics say she’s too much like Holder and the man who’s trying to hire her, Barack Obama, on major issues such as voting rights and immigration. It’s a ridiculous objection. What boss picks an employee to fight his or her goals?

What’s really holding her up is the kind of hyper-partisan D.C. food fight that’s destroying our country.”

Meanwhile, Burr and Tillis are their usual helpful selves:

“Lynch can’t even turn to her two home-state senators for help. A delegation of her N.C. supporters came away disappointed Tuesday after meetings with Richard Burr and Thom Tillis.

Burr has said he can’t support her because she seems too friendly to federal lawsuits like the one pending against North Carolina’s tough new voting requirements. Too much like Holder, Tillis has said, adding that he’d be shocked if her views on key issues differed from the president’s.”

Happily, the saving grace in all this is that Holder remains on the job. As Talking Points Memo reported yesterday:

News

Tillis mum on support for NC native and Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch

Loretta LynchThe U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote this morning on the nomination of North Carolina native Loretta Lynch to serve as the nation’s next Attorney General.

If approved by the Committee, her nomination will move to the full Senate for a final vote, and if confirmed there Lynch will become the first African-American woman to serve in that role.

The daughter of a black Baptist minister and a school librarian who once picked cotton in the eastern part of North Carolina, Lynch made her way from Durham to Brooklyn, where she has twice led the U.S. Attorney’s Office there.

Colleagues and adversaries alike have called her a tough, fair, and independent lawyer and a leader of one of the most active and effective U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the nation.

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton called her “a remarkable prosecutor with a clear sense of justice without fear or favor.

Former NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly praised Lynch as a person who “upholds the highest ethical standard” and “would serve our country well” as the attorney general.

And former FBI director Louis Freeh wrote in a letter to Judiciary Committee leadership that he couldn’t think of “a more qualified nominee” and was “happy to give Ms. Lynch my highest personal and professional recommendation.”

Lynch also garnered the respect of several senators serving on the 20-member Committee, before whom she appeared for questioning in late January.

Eleven of those senators are Republican — including newly-minted North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis – and nine are Democrats.

With a supporting vote, Tillis could help make Lynch the first North Carolinian to lead the Justice Department.

But he has not publicly announced his support, and his office did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.

Others on both sides of the aisle have expressed their support, though.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein called Lynch’s performance at her confirmation hearing one of the best she’d witnessed.

“I see the combination of steel and velvet,” Feinstein said.

And Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch said he was impressed by Lynch and plans to support her.

Despite that support, an effort is apparently underway among Republicans in the Senate to derail her nomination, according to this report in the News & Observer.

Fifty-one Republican senators have signed a letter urging Judiciary Committee members to oppose her nomination, saying they suspected that Lynch would likely continue the policies of Eric Holder, whom she’d succeed as Attorney General.

Holder made few friends among Republicans in the Senate, and during her confirmation hearing, Lynch found herself being pushed to distance herself from that.

“If confirmed as attorney general, I would be myself,” she said in response to questioning.

“I would be Loretta Lynch.”

 

Commentary

Tillis joins Burr in support for stifling the truth on torture

Thom TillisWell, this is off to a good start. Senator-elect Thom Tillis is already staking  out a less-than-courageous profile in his new job by essentially parroting the absurd remarks of his new colleague Richard Burr on the CIA torture report and attempting to make it a partisan issue — even though people of both major parties clearly bear responsibility for the atrocities.

Tillis gets a small measure of credit for admitting the torture — what he calls “those practices” — was wrong, but then he makes the illogical assertion that releasing the information will hurt American “credibility.”

Uh, excuse us Senator-elect. but here’s what will enhance American credibility going forward: telling the truth and not torturing people. As this morning’s editorial in the Wilmington Star News correctly notes:

“We pride ourselves on our sense of morality, justice and humanity, and should feel shame that the inhumane tactics described in the report were sanctioned on our behalf.

Moreover, they didn’t work. The report, which was gleaned from more than 6 million pages of information, found that in most cases subjecting enemy combatants to brutality produced no useful information.

That is hardly a revelation. Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who spent 51/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, has repeatedly denounced torture and other harsh tactics as cruel and ineffective. His observations have been backed up by experienced military interrogators who said that many captives will make up stories or offer bad information just to stop the physical or mental pain….

We cannot profess to be of superior moral fiber if we embrace the same disregard for human life and dignity that compels us to label terrorists as evil.”

Unlike Richard Burr, North Carolina’s new senator has six years to worry about re-election. You’d think he could take a break from partisan demagoguery for at least the first few months of his time in D.C.