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Richard Burr 2Today marks Day #293 of Senator Richard Burr’s silent, one-man filibuster of President Obama’s nominee for the federal bench in North Carolina’s Eastern District, federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker. Now, today, there is a new and fascinating explanation from one of the nation’s leading judiciary watchers as to what’s really up with Burr’s blockade and those of his fellow conservative senators: secession.

As Andrew Cohen, contributing editor at The Atlantic explains in “How to secede from the union one judicial vacancy at a time,” it really boils down to a matter of extreme, cynical, hardball politics:

“Secession can come in many forms—just ask anyone in Texas who cares to discuss the issue with you. One particularly effective strain currently wending its way through America has been largely ignored by reporters, political analysts, and legal scholars, even though it’s a bipartisan problem within the federal government itself that undermines the rule of law and hinders the lives of millions of citizens.

Call it secession by attrition. Read More

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Blue slipIn case you’ve lost count, today is Day #289 on the Richard Burr Blue Slip Watch. It’s been nearly ten months since President Obama nominated federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker to fill what is the longest-standing vacancy in the federal court system in North Carolina’s Eastern District. Unfortunately, as we have reported repeatedly on this site, Burr is blocking consideration of May-Parker unilaterally and refusing to say why. It’s a disgraceful situation that is made only worse by the fact that May-Parker would be the first African-American and only the second woman to serve on the federal bench in the Eastern District in its history.

And speaking of inexcusable behavior by North Carolina elected officials, commentator Marena Groll of ENC Weekly did a great job this week of skewering Gov. McCrory and the General Assembly over the state’s worst-in-the-nation tax policy changes.

And speaking of the state’s misguided economic policies, Read More

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Richard Burr 2In case you missed it, the New York Times editorialized this morning against Richard Burr’s ongoing and inexplicable one-man filibuster of federal judicial nominee Jennifer May-Parker and called for the U.S. Senate to reform its archaic “blue slip” process that allows home state senators to block court appointees without explanation:

“The job of federal judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina has been vacant for more than eight years, one of the longest vacancies of 83 on the federal bench around the country. Last June, President Obama nominated Jennifer May-Parker, a federal prosecutor, for the position, but she hasn’t even received a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee because Richard Burr, the state’s Republican senator, is blocking her.

The strange part is that Mr. Burr himself recommended her for the seat in 2009. But now he’s changed his mind and won’t say why, exploiting an archaic Senate tradition to make sure Mr. Obama can’t fill that vacancy. Read More

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Blue slipThe insanity continues. It’s now been 274 days since President Obama nominated federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker  to become the first African-American judge in the history of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina (74 days since he resubmitted her name in January).

As we noted last week, the nomination remains frozen in suspended animation because one man, Senator Richard Burr, refuses to return his “blue slip” — the modest little document that, under Senate tradition, both Senators from the home state must return in order for such a nominee to receive a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

What makes the whole thing that much more absurd, of course, is that Burr long ago signed off on May-Parker as the nominee. He even wrote a letter early in the Obama administration in which he specifically endorsed her for the job. Now, he won’t even answer questions about his actions in public.

This is clearly an unacceptable situation. Maybe Burr knows something the rest of us don’t. If he does, however, he owes it to his constituents to say what the heck it is. A more likely explanation seems to be that the senator is simply playing political games with a critically important matter of pubic business and, sadly thus far, getting away with it scot-free.

Burr will also be in Raleigh March 31 to tout his widely disparaged “alternative” to the Affordable Care Act at a Locke Foundation event. It sure would be great if some members of the news media would be there to ask him about the May-Parker filibuster. If you’d like to contact Burr to ask him to explain his actions on this matter, click here for contact information.

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Burr2Richard Burr’s ill-fated exchange with a sharp Canadian physician over the realities of health care in North America continues to rack up some great headlines for North Carolina’s senior senator.

The headline for the Los Angeles Times story is: “Watch an expert teach a smug U.S. senator about Canadian healthcare.”

At the national blog Talking Points Memo, it’s: “Canadian Health Care Expert Schools A Republican U.S. Senator.”

At Salon, it’s “Canadian doctor makes anti-Obamacare senator look like a buffoon.”

At Huffington Post, it’s: “Watch This Doctor Totally School An Anti-Obamacare Senator On Health Care.”

At the Canadian National Post, it’s: “Toronto doctor smacks down U.S. Senate question on Canadian waitlist deaths.”

In case you missed it the other day, here was the most-reported part of their exchange:

Burr: “On average, how many Canadian patients on a waiting list die each year? Do you know?”

Dr. Danielle Martin, vice president of Medical Affairs at Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital: “I don’t, sir, but I know that there are 45,000 in America who die waiting because they don’t have insurance at all.”