Federal District Court Seat Left Unfilled for Over 10 Years
The death of Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia, has many people worried about how and when the Supreme Court seat will be filled. People are concerned about how long this seat stays open, but have neglected many other vacant seats on numerous federal district courts. In NC, one seat has been left unfilled for over a decade, mainly do to legislative obstruction, led by Senator Burr.
However, no African-American judge has sat in the Eastern District in the court’s 143-year history. Even the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which hears appeals from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland, did not seat its first African-American judge until 2000 and its first Latino judge until 2010.
In June 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Jennifer Prescod May-Parker to fill the Eastern District’s vacant judgeship. May-Parker, the chief of the Appellate Division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District, would have been the first African-American person to serve as a federal judge in North Carolina’s Eastern District. However, her nomination was blocked by N.C. Sen. Richard Burr and was never even considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Ironically, Burr recommended May-Parker as a potential nominee in 2009. Customarily, both senators from the home state of a federal judicial nominee submit “blue slips,” opinions supporting the nomination before a Judiciary Committee hearing moves forward. Burr never turned in his blue slip after May-Parker was nominated. Although Obama submitted May-Parker’s nomination a second time in January 2014, Burr continued to inexplicably block the nomination.