Patricia Timmons-Goodson nominated for long-vacant seat on federal court bench

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Patricia Timmons-Goodson

Patricia Timmons-Goodson photo from United States Civil Rights Commission.

Patricia Timmons-Goodson, a former North Carolina Supreme Court justice who currently is vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has been nominated by President Barack Obama to a long-vacant seat on the state’s federal court bench.

Patricia Timmons-Goodson, who is a onetime member of the ABA Journal’s Board of Editors, was among eight nominees for judicial positions announced Thursday by the president. Goodson was the first black female to serve on the North Carolina Supreme Court when she joined the court in 2006. She retired from the state high court in 2012.

However, getting confirmed may not be entirely smooth sailing for Timmons-Goodson—Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican who is the state’s senior senator, say he would not submit the nomination to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the News & Observer reports.

The Fayetteville Observer also has a story.

Burr’s opposition appears to be motivated by the fact that Obama made the nomination in his final year as president, rather than in any objection to the candidate herself. The seat has been vacant for 10 years, for reasons that are not entirely clear, the News & Observer notes.

In a Thursday news release, Burr blamed Obama for “making a brazenly political nomination” and seemingly indicated he would not support any nomination by the president, according to the newspaper.

“Several years ago, when this seat first became vacant, I worked with former Senator Kay Hagan, other interested members of Congress, and the President to fill the vacancy in the Eastern District,” Burr said in the statement, not specifying who was selected at that time for the seat on the federal bench.

“After the agreement had been made, the President declined to honor it,” Burr continued. “I remain disappointed that the President broke our agreement. I’m even more disappointed that the White House has chosen to double down by making a brazenly political nomination, and without consulting either of North Carolina’s Senators.”

In his own written statement, U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat, praised Timmons-Goodson as an “excellent” candidate with a top reputation.

“This vacancy has been deemed to be a judicial emergency by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts,” he said, adding: “It is the responsibility of the Republican leadership in the United States Senate to conduct a hearing and proceed to a vote on this nomination.”

Timmons-Goodson declined to comment when contacted by the ABA Journal.

Updated on May 2.

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