Monday, March 31, 2014

Here Comes the Judge. Or Not.

There have been a lot of things in the news lately - legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act, Republican efforts to restrict voting rights, civil rights for LBGT people, to name a few - that have had  me thinking about the importance of the federal judiciary in our everyday lives. And then today, I read this op-ed in the New York Times:

The Senate’s Discourtesy to Judges

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. 
Republicans know that their policies are not popular with a majority of the citizenry.  They know that the changing demographics in our country are not favorable to them. So the only hope they have of enacting their ideology is by cheating and by controlling the judiciary, in order to obstruct or undermine  progressive laws.

Appointment of federal judges is one of the most important and long-lasting powers granted the President in the Constitution. An obstructionist Republican minority in the U.S. Senate has done everything in its power to ensure that President Obama's nominees won't be appointed to the federal bench. It is time for Senator Leahy to prioritize the functioning of the judiciary, and the popular will of the citizenry and the Senate over the "gentleman's agreements" that are nowhere in our Constitution or even in our statutory codes.

And it is vitally important that we do not lose more Senate seats to reactionary Republicans in the mid-term elections.

For any North Carolinians inclined to call Senator Burr to ask him why he is blocking a vote on a judge he, himself, recommended, contact numbers are here.

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