Activists asking why Sen. Burr seems to be blocking North Carolina's first African-American female federal judge nomination

RALEIGH

Burr actually nominated Jennifer May-Parker back in 2009, but women's rights and civil rights advocates are asking why it seems he's changed his mind.

"All that we come together to ask today is that the process that has been put in place for judicial nominations be allowed to work," said Tara Romano, President of the N.C. Women United during a movement outside the federal courthouse in Raleigh Friday.

The group is specifically calling for Burr to submit paperwork known as a "blue slip" that would allow the Senate Judiciary Committee to proceed with a hearing to fill the position.

Not only is that spot vacant, but advocates say following through on May-Parker's nomination would also be a step toward much-needed diversity for that part of the state.

"The population of the eastern district is over 25 percent African-American, yet its federal district bench has no African-American judges appointed," said Gailya Paliga, President of N.C. Now.

In 2009, Burr recommended May-Parker to the White House, and last June, the president formally submitted the nomination to the Senate, but that's where it's stalled without Burr's approval.

As for why, Burr has not said. ABC11 reached out to his office Friday, to which they responded with a statement.

"The President, as well as current and former White House Counsels, are fully aware of my concerns with regard to the Eastern District, and have been for more than four years," the statement read. "That said, while others in the United States Senate, and Congress generally, are free to discuss the content of their own conversations with the President and White House Counsels regarding these nominations, I will not do so."

Meanwhile, there is urgency to fill the position. It has been vacant for eight years, and has now been declared a judicial emergency by the administrative office of the U.S. courts. It's also the longest-running such vacancy in the country.

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