Senators Burr and Tillis and the Politics of Obstruction

This op-ed, written by NC NOW President Gailya Paliga, went from being published in the Asheville Citizen-Times on 5/27/16 to being carried in USA-Today

Senators Burr and Tillis and the Politics of Obstruction

“North Carolina’s two Republican senators say they have no interest in considering President Barack Obama’s nomination” of Judge Merrick B. Garland to the US Supreme Court, according to Citizen-Times article, “Burr, Tillis say they won’t consider high court nominee,” 3/16/16.

In this, both NC Senators are stubbornly refusing to do their jobs. I refer to the US Senate’s job of advice and consent. Under the Constitution, presidential nominations for executive and judicial posts take effect only when confirmed by the Senate. The Senate’s job is to make sure the nominee is qualified, and if so, vote yes. If not, that will come out during the hearings.

Yet Burr and Tillis are refusing to allow hearings on the US Supreme Court nomination. According to “Supreme Court Vacancies in Presidential Election Years,” (2/13/16), there have been several nominations and confirmations of Justices during presidential election years. Clearly the hearings are the valid and constitutionally sanctioned place and time to find problems with nominees. Why are they blocking the process?


Back to NC. Judge Garland is not the first nominee for important federal positions that Burr and Tillis have blocked. They both voted against NC native Loretta Lynch when she was nominated for US Attorney General.

Retired NC Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson was nominated on 4/28/16 to fill a longtime vacancy of a US District judge position in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Burr vowed to block her the same day! Timmons-Goodson was the first African American woman to be an NC Supreme Court Justice, and spent 15 years as a judge (1997-2012). She is extremely well qualified for the federal court.

Burr also blocked a third African American woman from a federal position, Jennifer May-Parker. May-Parker is the previous nominee for the US District judge position in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Burr stonewalled May-Parker’s nomination for federal judge in 2013 (and again in 2014) until it ran out. What makes this even more ironic is that Burr himself had recommended May-Parker in 2009.

This federal court seat has been empty for more than 10 years. This vacancy was elevated to judicial emergency status years ago. Burr has never explained why he did not submit May-Parker’s name for consideration. Now, Burr is blocking another extremely well qualified African American woman from filling this vacancy.

Burr has caused and continues to cause the federal courts in North Carolina to be short-handed. Burr and Tillis have refused to meet with Garland, or follow the Senate’s proper procedure to check him out. Burr and Tillis both need to fill this inexcusable 10 year judicial vacancy and this extremely important US Supreme Court position!

– Gailya Paliga,
President, NC National Organization for Women

Posted online at Asheville Citizen-Times on 5/27/16 at  Expected to run in print on Sunday, 5/29/16.


4 thoughts on “Senators Burr and Tillis and the Politics of Obstruction

  1. I was making plans to seek Senator Burr and Tillis to work towards eliminating that ridiculous Rule #19 that blocks the inclusion of information as it relates to a presidential nomination, however,after much review of their record, I find this is a worthless effort. Their stand on refusing our former President Obama’s appointments to Judgeship positions is a true reflection of their character. Therefore, I will be working to get people that one normally would not expect to vote to help vote them out. They are a detriment to the people of NC, and really to any person that was created by God. May you know that this will not reflect well at the end of your journey.

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