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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.

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Richard BurrIf you haven’t already, be sure to check out this morning’s breaking news story on the main NC Policy Watch site by Courts and Law reporter Sharon McCloskey: “Another roadblock for the Eastern District?”

As Sharon reports, Senate Judiciary Committee staff have indicated that Senator Richard Burr is blocking consideration of federal judicial nominee Jennifer May-Parker (a highly qualified African-American federal prosecutor) by refusing to return his “blue slip” — a step required by Senate procedures in order for the nomination to proceed to a hearing next week.

As we have explained before, the vacancy in the Eastern District is the longest standing federal district court vacancy in the country (it has stood vacant for 8 years!). To make matters even more absurd, Read More

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Just released this afternoon….

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
21 February 2013

The NC NAACP once again urges Senators Burr and Hagan to help put an end to the historic exclusion of African American judges from the US District Court for the Eastern District in North Carolina with the pending appointment by the President. There has never been, in our history, a African American Judge on the bench in US District Court for the Eastern District of NC. The NC NAACP issued a letter to the Senators on October 25, 2011 urging the Senators to do the same. And on January 23, 2013 we wrote a private letter to the Senators, this time requesting a meeting to discuss the issue further. Senator Hagan has responded. However we are respectfully awaiting a response from Senator Burr’s office to schedule a meeting. We are now writing Senator Burr publicly with hopes that he will take the time to meet with civil rights leaders representing many of his constituents in NC before any decisions are made

We look forward to both a response for a meeting and for your efforts to right the historic wrongs when it comes to appointments to the US District Courts in North Carolina.

You can read the January letter by clicking here.

 

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The federal court in Raleigh enters 2013 still in a state of judicial emergency, as this article by Patrick Gannon of the Wilmington StarNews reminds us.

That court now has the dubious distinction of having the oldest U.S. District Court judicial vacancy in the country.  The seat, opened up on Dec. 31, 2005 when Judge Malcolm J. Howard took senior status, has been unfilled for more than 2500 days. 

At one point over these last seven years, it looked like we might have some movement towards a nominee:

Nearly four years ago, in July 2009, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., recommended three candidates for the seat in a letter to the president. According to a news release issued at the time, they were: Allen Cobb Jr., senior resident Superior Court judge for Hanover and Pender counties; Jennifer May-Parker, assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District handling criminal appellate cases; and Quentin Sumner, senior resident Superior Court judge in Nash County.

David Ward, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said the Republican senator also submitted recommendations to the White House in July 2009 that were “substantially similar” to Hagan’s. He declined to give names. Burr still awaits word from the White House on a nomination, Ward said.

But since then, mum’s the word.

In the meantime, the caseload of the absent but to-be-named federal judge is being shared by three senior district judges who have put in more than their fair share of time on the bench:  Hon. James C. Fox, 84, a Reagan appointee who went on senior status in 2001; Hon. W. Earl Britt, 80, a Carter appointee who went on senior status in 1997; and Hon. Malcolm J. Howard, 73, a Reagan appointee who went on senior status, as noted above, in 2005.

In the weeks to come, we’ll be taking a closer look at why that’s the case and what can be done before this emergency moves to catastrophe.