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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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As noted in the post below, North Carolina Senator Richard Burr is blocking, without explanation, the nomination of federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker to be the first African-American judge in the history of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Sadly, as this infographic from the good folks at the Alliance for Justice in D.C. makes clear, the stonewalling of diverse court appointments by President Obama is a pernicious and widespread problem. 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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Senator Richard Burr’s secret filibuster of U.S. District Court nominee Jennifer May-Parker  for North Carolina’s Eastern District is not the only judicial obstructionism going on in the U.S. Senate. Republican senators have also been blockading President Obama’s nominees to the nation’s second most important court — the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — as well.

As Ian Millhiser explained in a post this morning at Think Progress entitled “Get Ready for the Filibuster Wars to Resume This Week in the Senate” the blockade is back on the front burner:

“Last July, Senate Democrats backed off their plan to invoke the so-called “nuclear option” and abolish the filibuster on executive branch nominees — but only after their Republican counterparts caved and agreed to fill seven key government jobs they previously held open with filibusters. Since then, the two parties have maintained an uneasy détente in the confirmation wars. A small group of Republicans supplied the exact minimum number of votes required to break a filibuster on Secretary of Labor Tom Perez’s nomination, for example, even though many Republicans bitterly object to the steps Perez took to fight housing discrimination and to protect the right to vote.

That détente is likely to break down as soon as this week, however. Read More

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Five quick things worth knowing/remembering on the first Tuesday of fall 2013:

#1 – As noted below, seats still remain for Thursday NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation: “Worse than NAFTA: Lori Wallach explains the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”  Click here for more info and to register.

#2 – It’s hurricane/sea level rise season, but don’t think that’s leading the folks running the state of North Carolina to do anything intentional or proactive to address it. Indeed, as journalist Kirk Ross reports over at the N.C. Coastal Federation website, the state Coastal Resources Commission has been gutted and is now “essentially out  of business.”

#3 – On the courts and law front, Senator Richard Burr is still doing his impression of The Invisible Man by blocking Senate consideration of federal District Court nominee Jennifer May-Parker for the long-vacant seat in North Carolina’s Eastern District and then lacking the decency to even admit he’s doing it or explain why. Court watchers at the Center for American Progress are urging folks to call Burr and demand action

#4 – And speaking of “The Invisible Man,” has there been a more delightful story in recent days than the overwhelming response to the book-banners in Randolph County for their knuckleheaded effort to ban the the Ralph Ellison classic? Barry Saunders of Raleigh’s N&O did a great job ridiculing the book banners yesterday and now, today, we learn that the censorship effort has completely backfired.      

#5 – And finally, for those looking to have America’s health care crisis explained in fast-moving 7 minute video, check out this pretty doggone accurate effort by a fellow named John Green at the website Upworthy.