At a meeting on Saturday, North Carolina’s NAACP indicated their intentions to push Winston-Salem Sen. Richard Burr(R) to fill a judicial vacancy in one of the state’s federal district courts. The Rev. William Barber stated that he wants Burr to allow the process of selecting a new judge to go forward. This request is at the top of a five-point “Action Plan” the NCNAACP has for 2014. Moral Monday marches are scheduled to begin next week.
Senate Judiciary Committee staff have told reporters that Senator Burr has been blocking consideration of federal judicial nominee Jennifer May-Parker (a highly qualified African-American federal prosecutor) who was nominated by President Obama. Sen. Burr is blocking this nomination in spite of the fact that in a letter dated July 21st, 2009, Burr recommended May-Parker to be nominated for US district Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
North Carolina’s Eastern District is the longest standing federal district court vacancy in the United States at 8 years and counting (it has stood vacant for 8 years!). The fact that the Eastern District is heavily African-American and that the nominee is African-American is a major motivator for the NCNAACP push. In September, Rev. Barber told NC Policy Watch site by Courts and Law reporter Sharon McCloske, “The qualifications of African-American candidates have never been the issue. Sadly, however, opportunity and the receptiveness of Senators to such an appointment have been. We’ve been waiting at least 145 years too long on this front. It’s time for the Eastern District to start looking like America and North Carolina.”
The proponents of Jennifer May-Parker’s nomination have offered reasons for Burr blocking the nomination that range from racism to political brinksmanship – Republicans have blocked dozens of President Obama’s nominees in a show of disrespect and in order to sow chaos in his administration by leaving needed jobs vacant. Sen. Burr, himself, has refused to comment. When CCD inquired of the Senator’s office today regarding the statements by the NCNAACP and his earlier recommendation of May-Parker, a spokesperson from Sen. Burr’s press shop responded:
“It has always been Senator Burr’s policy not to release or publically (sic) discuss judicial recommendations made to the White House.”