Editorials and Opinion
It's time for Burr to simply do his job (Franklin Times [Louisburg, NC], 05/11/16)
Letter to the Editor: "Last week, Sen. Richard Burr had the opportunity to rise above the typical partisan politics that defines Congress by supporting Patricia Timmons-Goodson's nomination to fill the long-vacant seat on the U.S. Eastern District of North Carolina federal district court."
EDITORIAL: Act on Garland nomination (Day [CT] , 05/11/16)
"A sense of duty has not propelled the Republican leaders of the U.S. Senate to act on President Obama's nomination of a U.S. Supreme Court justice. But even if patriotic and constitutional responsibility were not enough to move them, maybe something they hold dearer will force their hands — political expediency.... Swallow your pride, Senator McConnell, and move the Garland nomination forward."
Pat Toomey Tries To Skip The Line And Only Confirm His Judicial Nominees: It didn’t really work out. (Huffington Post, 05/11/16)
Jennifer Bendery: "They are two of 11 judicial nominees ready to be confirmed, but the Senate is barely moving because of McConnell, who is loath to allow votes on any more Obama nominees.... The problem with his request is that eight other district court nominees are in line ahead of his, and traditionally, the Senate confirms them in the order that they arrive from the Judiciary Committee. That means Toomey was asking to make all of those nominees — including those from GOP states like Tennessee and Nebraska, and those that would fill judicial emergencies — wait longer"
Chuck Grassley, The Do-Nothing Chairman (People For blog, 05/11/16)
"Grassley’s committee has confirmed circuit and appellate judges at a glacial pace, especially when compared to a similar period during Senator Patrick Leahy’s chairmanship.... By the end of April 2008, Leahy had worked to confirm 45 judges with only 32 nominations remaining before the Senate. Three of these pending nominees had already cleared the committee and four had already received committee hearings. This means that no action had been taken on just 25 nominations.
During the comparable time period between January 2015 and April of this year, Grassley has only managed to confirm 17 nominees, barely a third the number of Patrick Leahy under George W. Bush. Fifty-two of President Obama’s judicial appointments are still pending. Of these, 12 have cleared the committee, and hearings have been held for an additional 6, leaving 33 with no action having been taken.
In the first 16 months of his tenure as Judiciary Committee chairman, Leahy managed to confirm 58% of George W. Bush’s nominees. On the other hand, Grassley has managed to confirm only 25% of Barack Obama’s."
Letter: Judicial appointments are mired in politics (Times-News [Burlington, NC], 05/10/16)
Glenn Sugameli heads the nonpartisan Judging the Environment judicial nominations project: "Based on my 15 years of tracking federal judicial vacancies and nominations, I offer some national and historical context on your persuasive editorial ... . Justice delayed will continue to be justice denied for North Carolina people and businesses, as U.S. Sen. Richard Burr blocks former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson’s nomination to the Eastern District of North Carolina trial court. In addition to her “bonfides” you cite, the American Bar Association gave Timmons-Goodson’s nomination its highest rating: unanimously well-qualified.
Senator Burr previously blocked, without explanation, President Obama’s first nominee, who Sen. Burr had recommended, for the same vacancy. Empty for more than a decade, it is the nation’s oldest vacancy by more than four years, and the U.S. Courts have declared it a “judicial emergency.”... Senator Burr’s position, however, is in stark contrast to his fellow Republican senators from Mississippi to Wyoming who have worked with the White House to fill all judgeships in their states, and to many more who are continuing to do so. My nonpartisan website has compiled statements by Republican Senators from 14 States supporting pending nominees and urging action to fill their judicial vacancies.
Sadly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is denying a hearing on Chief Judge Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination, and delaying floor votes on 20 judicial nominees the Judiciary Committee approved unanimously months ago."
President Obama's Supreme Court Nominee Submits His Questionnaire to the Senate (The White House, 05/10/16)
Neil Eggleston, White House Counsel: "We expect that upon receiving the questionnaire, Senate Judiciary Committee members will do their jobs by reviewing his record, noticing a hearing so that the American people can hear directly from Chief Judge Garland as he answers questions under oath, and giving him a timely vote. Every nominee since 1875 who wasn't withdrawn from consideration has received a hearing and/or a vote. With more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history and a long record of public service, we expect the Senate will give Chief Judge Garland the same fair consideration as prior nominees. The American people and the integrity of our judicial system deserve nothing less."
Editorial: Jurists can learn from Iowa's Supreme Court (Quad City Times [IL,IA] , 05/10/16)
"There's no greater threat to the U.S. justice system than partisan tantrums from those hell-bent on getting their own way. ...
The threat isn't limited to the spat over President Obama's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court."
My Turn: Washington could learn from New Hampshire (Concord Monitor [NH], 05/09/16)
Debora B. Pignatelli column: Unfortunately, unlike the case of late Justice Scalia, who received his first hearing in 42 days, Senate Republicans have made it clear that there will never be a hearing to occur at all for Supreme Court nominee Garland. While it would be an unprecedented action for the Senate to ignore its constitutional responsibilities to advise and consent, you might not know that here in New Hampshire, such obstruction would be against state law.
In fact, when I was a New Hampshire state senator, my colleagues, both Republican and Democratic, enacted a bill I co-sponsored that required all state judicial nominees receive a public hearing. It has served our state well."
Burr’s absurd blockade of a judge in his home state (Triangle Tribune [NC], 05/09/16)
by Chris Fitzsimon, Columnist: "An African-American has never served as a federal judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Senator Richard Burr apparently intends to keep it that way, judging by his knee-jerk opposition to President Obama’s latest nominee to fill a seat on the court that has been vacant for 10 years, the longest vacancy in the country."
Eva Clayton: Eastern North Carolina deserves to have a federal court judge (News & Observer [NC], 05/09/16)
Former Congresswoman Eva Clayton: "When I heard that President Obama had nominated Patricia Timmons-Goodson to fill the long-vacant seat on the U.S. Eastern District of North Carolina federal district court, my heart rose. “Finally,” I thought.
After 10 years of waiting, the people of Eastern North Carolina would have a justice of whom we could all be proud. ... The first African-American woman to serve on the North Carolina Supreme Court was now going to be the first African-American judge to serve the Eastern District of North Carolina.... Burr. It is his job to consider judicial nominees, yet almost immediately after Timmons-Goodson’s nomination was announced Burr said he would block it. No vote. No hearing. Not so much as a meeting.
Burr has justified his blocking of the U.S. Supreme Court nominee by saying the American people deserve to have a say so we must wait until after the 2016 presidential election. But in the case of Timmons-Goodson, the people of North Carolina did have their say – twice – and they chose her."
EDITORIAL: GOP senators refuse to do their jobs (Montgomery Advertiser [AL], 05/08/16)
"Most people who refuse to do their jobs get canned. Not so with GOP senators in Congress who refuse to hold hearings or vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland.
President Obama nominated Garland, a moderate, in March .... Anti-Obama obstructionists in the Senate should stop their disrespectful dereliction of duty. Alabama voters should demand Sessions and Shelby push for timely action on Garland's Supreme Court nomination."
Get to work, senator (Wilmington Star-News [NC], 05/08/16)
Letter to the Editor by Susi Hamilton, N.C. House of Representatives: "Sen. Richard Burr is not doing the job we are paying him to do when he refuses to even consider judicial nominees.
Burr swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution, which includes the important role of considering judicial nominees to federal courts. However, he refuses to honor that oath by vowing to block the appointment of Patricia Timmons-Goodson, a woman who was elected twice to statewide office and served as the first African American woman on the N.C. Supreme Court, to the federal court.
Our Eastern District seat has been vacant for over a decade.... Do your job, Sen. Burr. Give Patricia Timmons-Goodson a vote."
America’s Trial Court Judges: Our Front Line for Justice (New York Times, 05/07/16)
Former S.D.N.Y judge SHIRA A. SCHEINDLIN: "Even as the spotlight shines on the high court, the Senate has refused to confirm dozens of uncontroversial nominees to fill vacancies in the federal trial courts.... Just last week, Senate Republicans refused to vote on 11 federal district court nominees whom the Judiciary Committee had already approved — even those who were supported by Republicans in their home states. During President George W. Bush’s last two years in office, the Democratic-controlled Senate confirmed about 57 district court judges. Since Republicans took power in 2014, the Senate has confirmed only 15 of President Obama’s trial court nominees.
This is an even bigger problem than Judge Garland’s stalled nomination. Trial court judges do the bulk of the work in the federal court system .... the Senate majority’s policy of delaying qualified district-court nominations on purely political grounds undermines public trust in the impartiality and legitimacy of the judiciary."
Gene Smith: First things first, and justice isn't one of them (Fayetteville Observer [NC] , 05/06/16)
"The only thing that Burr has to do to block Patricia Timmons-Goodson of Fayetteville, a former state Supreme Court justice and Court of Appeals judge, is nothing. Without his blessing and that of Sen. Thom Tillis, the Senate will never get a peek at her nomination.... [Burr]'s so upset by this development, he says, that he will not clear any nominee put forward by the lame-duck president.
What makes it potentially risky is that Burr is trying to link arms with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who famously made the same vow regarding Supreme Court nominees, but their situations are different.
McConnell's core argument is that the Constitution really doesn't require the Senate to do anything at all when the president sends it a nomination. The argument makes no sense because it implies that the Framers gave one of their three independent branches power to decapitate another branch through attrition; but at least it has something to do with the Constitution. Burr's (and Tillis') power to block nominees from this state is rooted in mere tradition. The Framers not only made no provision for it; most probably would have found the idea repugnant.... So Timmons-Goodson's fitness won't be an issue.... Unfortunately, it will do North Carolina no good."
Letter: Wrong to block nomination (Fayetteville Observer [NC] , 05/06/16)
Val Applewhite: "Sen. Richard Burr blocked the appointment of Patricia Timmons-Goodson to fill a seat on the federal court in Eastern North Carolina that has been vacant for over a decade.
Patricia Timmons-Goodson was elected district judge three times before becoming the first African-American woman to be elected to, and serve on, the North Carolina Supreme Court.
It is unfair that we have to settle for this hypocrisy displayed by Richard Burr and it is wrong that the people in the 44 counties represented by the Eastern District are denied the honorable and distinguished judge they deserve."
Senate Republicans Are Breaking Records for Judicial Obstruction: As President Obama enters his final months in office, dozens of seats on the bench will remain unfilled. (Mother Jones, 05/06/16)
Patrick Caldwell: "While Democrats have publicly hammered the GOP's refusal to consider Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court, Republicans have mounted an equally important, if quieter, effort to block President Barack Obama's nominees to other federal courts, creating widespread vacancies in courts across the country.... Since taking control of the Senate in early 2015, Republicans have confirmed only 17 federal judges, a historically low number. The Senate confirmed just 11 judges in 2015, the fewest since 1960. There have been only two appellate court judges approved since Republicans took control, with seven appeals court nominations left pending.... Republicans would have to go on a spree of votes for the rest of the year to match the 68 judges that President George W. Bush got through the Democratic Senate in the last two years of his presidency—38 of whom had already been confirmed by April 2008.
It's not for lack of nominees that the pace of confirmations has been so slow. There are 87 current vacancies and 61 judicial nominations... 20 nominations are languishing on the Senate floor ... the number of vacancies has been growing since the start of 2015, whereas Bush saw his vacancy rate decline over the equivalent period of his presidency."
Letter: Burr should do his job, quit blocking judges (Asheville Citizen-Times [NC] , 05/05/16)
James K. Rose: "I am writing in response to Sen. Richard Burr’s stated intent to scuttle the nomination of former state Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson to become a U.S. District court judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
The Eastern District seat has been vacant for ten years, undoubtedly significantly affecting the fair and equal administration of justice for citizens of North Carolina.... Burr has also stated his opposition to hearings on President Obama’s nomination of Merritt Garland to fill that vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Burr is failing to discharge his duties as a U.S. senator to citizens North Carolina and the United States."
EDITORIAL: Our View: Eastern N.C. deserves a federal judge (Rocky Mount Telegram [NC] , 05/05/16)
"For more than a decade, the U.S. District Court in Eastern North Carolina has faced a conspicuous absence – and not for a lack of nominees.
The nation’s longest-running federal court vacancy has sat unfilled since Jan. 1, 2006 ... Now, because U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, North Carolina’s senior Republican senator, is opposed to President Barack Obama’s nomination for the bench – Patricia Timmons-Goodson.
Burr argues the nomination of Timmons-Goodson is a political choice, and he is right. That is the nature of the selection process.
But the only alternative Burr seems to favor is an empty seat. If every Republican senator in Washington followed Burr’s lead, the country would have plenty more vacancies. Maybe that means something on the scoreboard of partisan gamesmanship, but it does not serve justice to the people of Eastern North Carolina.
Timmons-Goodson is not exactly a rookie. She served on the N.C. Supreme Court from 2006 to 2012 and is now vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights."
Senator Burr’s absurd blockade of a judge in his home state (NC Policy Watch, 05/05/16)
Chris Fitzsimon: "An African-American has never served as a federal judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina and Senator Richard Burr apparently intends to keep it that way, judging by his knee-jerk opposition to President Obama’s latest nominee to fill a seat on the court that has been vacant for 10 years, the longest vacancy in the country.... Burr cited a letter he wrote to President Obama endorsing May-Parker in reply to the question about why he was holding up a hearing on the nomination of May-Parker for the court.
Seven years later, the Eastern District is still struggling to cope with its caseload with the vacancy to the point that the Administrative Office of the United States Courts has designated it an emergency to fill the seat.
And NC Policy Watch reported in 2014, in the prior seven years the district’s caseload grew so much that it took longer for a civil case to move from filing through trial than in any other district in the country except one in California.... Obama announced a new nominee for the court, former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson from Fayetteville, a widely respected jurist .... It’s a solid choice for a seat that should have been filled years ago and Burr is doing North Carolina and the federal judiciary a disservice by playing political games now."
Sen. Leahy: Republicans’ Refusal To Do Their Jobs Means Our Courts Cannot Do Theirs—And Americans Suffer (American Constitution Society Blog, 05/05/16)
"When Democrats held the Senate majority, we worked hard to fulfill our constitutional role to consider and confirm judicial nominees to fill vacancies in courts throughout the country. Despite constant obstruction by Senate Republicans who blocked President Obama’s nominees at every turn, we reduced the number of judicial vacancies to 43 by the end of 2014. ... Vacancies have increased 75 percent since Republicans took over the Senate majority.... There are 20 judicial nominees pending on the Senate floor who were all unanimously voice voted out of the Judiciary Committee. Several of them are from states with Republican home state Senators who support their nomination.... since taking over the majority last year, Republicans have confirmed just 17 judges. At this point in the last two years of the Bush administration with a Democratic Senate, we had confirmed 68 of President Bush’s judicial nominees.... here are 35 more judicial nominees awaiting a hearing, including 7 circuit court nominees. Three of these circuit court nominees have blue slips returned by both of their home state Senators and are ready for a hearing."
Editorial: Partisan politics run amok (Times-News [Burlington, NC], 05/05/16)
"The politics of judicial appointments have reached absurd levels.
Case in point, the most recent blockage by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr of a federal judgeship for the Eastern District of North Carolina. ... The spot has only been vacant since the second term of George W. Bush ... President Obama nominated Judge Patricia Timmons-Goodson for the federal judgeship. She has some bonafides. The judge, a Fayetteville native, was the first black woman to serve on the North Carolina Supreme Court. She is currently vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The best word for her career is “distinguished.” Her appointment hardly seems “brazenly political,” as Burr suggests.
Sadly, thanks to the arcane rules and traditions of the Senate, Burr can block Timmons-Goodson’s nomination for as long as he chooses.
That’s simply wrong."
Senator Burr’s absurd blockade of a judge in his home state (Richmond County Daily Journal [NC], 05/05/16)
Chris Fitzsimon - Contributing Columnist: "An African-American has never served as a federal judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina and Senator Richard Burr apparently intends to keep it that way, judging by his knee-jerk opposition to President Obama’s latest nominee to fill a seat on the court that has been vacant for 10 years, the longest vacancy in the country.... Burr cited a letter he wrote to President Obama endorsing May-Parker in reply to the question about why he was holding up a hearing on the nomination of May-Parker for the court. Seven years later, the Eastern District is still struggling to cope with its caseload with the vacancy to the point that the Administrative Office of the United States Courts has designated it an emergency to fill the seat. And NC Policy Watch reported in 2014, in the prior seven years the district’s caseload grew so much that it took longer for a civil case to move from filing through trial than in any other district in the country except one in California.... Obama announced a new nominee for the court, former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson from Fayetteville, a widely respected jurist .... It’s a solid choice for a seat that should have been filled years ago and Burr is doing North Carolina and the federal judiciary a disservice by playing political games now."
US court vacancies a judicial emergency (News & Observer [NC], 05/05/16)
Tommy Tobin: "North Carolina is home to the nation’s longest-running federal court vacancy. Recently, Patricia Timmons-Goodson was nominated to fill the post that’s been unfilled for over a decade. Sen. Richard Burr reacted to this news by vowing to block this former state supreme court justice from the federal bench.
Federal judicial vacancies occur all over the country. Right now, 60 nominees are awaiting confirmation.
Judicial vacancies have consequences. A forthcoming paper by Professor Crystal S. Yang in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy found significant real-world effects on criminal justice outcomes during judicial vacancies. For example, prosecutors were found to dismiss charges more often during vacancies. ... Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe has noted that without a full bench, the Supreme Court vacancy will lead Americans to “lose faith in the courts, and with good reason.”... the federal bench currently has over 84 vacant judgeships – approximately 10 percent of all federal judicial positions. In dozens of jurisdictions across the country, federal dockets are so clogged that they have been labeled “judicial emergencies.”... It’s time for the Senate to do its job and consider the well-qualified nominees for the federal judiciary."
Timmons-Goodson earns ABA's highest rating (Greensboro News & Record [NC], 05/05/16)
Editorial writer Doug Clark: "The American Bar Association has given Patricia Timmons-Goodson its highest rating of "well qualified."
Timmons-Goodson, a former justice of the N.C. Supreme Court, was nominated by President Obama April 28 to serve on the U.S. District Court bench for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
The same day, Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina said he won't support the nomination"
EDITORIAL: Our Opinion: A Burr blockade (Greensboro News & Record [NC], 05/03/16)
"When Patricia Timmons-Goodson ran for a seat on the N.C. Supreme Court in 2006, she polled 58 percent of the vote. ... she’d already proven her mettle on the state Court of Appeals and as a District Court judge in her native Cumberland County.
So it wasn’t surprising last week when President Barack Obama nominated Timmons-Goodson to fill a vacant seat on the U.S. District Court bench in Raleigh. She is eminently well-qualified and owns a long record of service.... But Sen. Richard Burr’s immediate response to the nomination did come as a shock.... he blocked the woman previously nominated for this long-empty position, Jennifer May-Parker, an assistant U.S. attorney. She was nominated in June 2013 but never given a hearing.... There is no excuse for denying Timmons-Goodson a hearing, even if Obama failed to call him about the nomination. That might be a breach of protocol, but Burr is equally responsible because of his unreasonable positions on the Lynch and Garland nominations.... as an experienced, fair-minded judge, Timmons-Goodson doesn’t let political considerations dictate her conduct on the bench. That’s what makes her a good choice for the federal court seat.... Burr should reconsider and support her confirmation"
EDITORIAL: The Report Card for May 3 (Asheville Citizen-Times [NC] , 05/03/16)
"F to Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., for immediately shooting down the nomination of Patricia Timmons-Goodson to fill a federal court vacancy for the U.S. Eastern District of North Carolina. Timmons-Goodson has served on the N.C. Court of Appeals, was the first black woman on the state Supreme Court and most recently served as vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. There’s little debate regarding her qualifications. Still, Sen. Burr said he won’t submit the nomination to the Senate Judiciary Committee. And so the politics of gridlock will ensure that the Eastern District vacancy, a post that has gone unfilled since the first day of 2006, will continue."
EDITORIAL: Obama’s high court choice deserves hearing (Poughkeepsie Journal [NY] , 05/03/16)
"President Barack Obama has done his job by picking an imminently qualified judge to serve on the Supreme Court.
Senate Republicans, who like to tout themselves as strict constructionists of the Constitution, should stop their charade and set a confirmation hearing.... Now the U.S. Senate ought to fulfill its obligation by setting into motion the process to “advise and consent” on the president’s choice, as the Constitution requires. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say the Senate should “ignore a nomination until the president’s term expires.”"
Time for McCrory and Burr to shut things down for the year? Under conservative standards applied to President Obama, they would have no other choice (NC Policy Watch, 05/03/16)
Rob Schofield: "One of the more important developments for North Carolina took place on Thursday when President Obama nominated former state Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson to fill a decade-old vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the state’s Eastern District. If confirmed, Timmons-Goodson would be the first judge of color to ever serve in the Eastern District (a region of North Carolina in which the African-American population is higher than any other) in the history of the federal courts.
For those of you who are counting, that’s 237 years.
Unfortunately, ... Senator Richard Burr has announced that he will torpedo the nomination as the bizarre rules of the U.S. Senate all but guarantee him the right to do. As with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, Burr apparently takes the view that federal judicial nominations during presidential election years are now a big no-no.... As with his Timmons-Goodson blockade, this is, of course, an utterly absurd position.... It’s hard to know what’s more maddening about Burr’s stance – the transparency of the senator’s hypocrisy and opportunism or his utter lack of transparency in espousing his position. ... In the case of the Eastern District seat (where Burr blocked a previous nominee for years) he has literally and repeatedly brushed off inquiries, stating that the public has no right to know his motives"