Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Will N.C. get more appeals judges?

Today's New York Times has a piece on how President Obama will soon start putting his stamp on the nation's federal judiciary -- and to what extent it will reflect his ideology.

Among the president's opportunities are nominating candidates to fill four vacancies on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond -- the appellate court that handles appeals from North Carolina, South Carolina and three other Southern states.

North Carolina has long been under-represented, if that's the right word, on that 4th Circuit court because of a long-standing rift among the state's two senators that began years ago when the late Sen. Jesse Helms, a Republican, was in office and Democrats blocked his nominees when a Republican was in the White House and Helms blocked Democrats' nominees when a Democrat held the White House. It has been going on too long.

This would be a good time for Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. and Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., to make a concerted effort to put away political rivalries and find a rational way to get more North Carolinians on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. The feuding has blocked some good trial judges from service, including U.S. Eastern District Judge Terrence Boyle, a Republican, who got a raw deal when the Senate refused to hold a vote on his qualifications.

He, and we, deserved better.

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