NCWU Joins with Members and Community Partners to Call for Action on Judicial Emergency

NCWU and members NC NOW, Women AdvaNCe, Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, the NC Justice Center and Planned Parenthood Health  System of North Carolina joined with the NC NAACP and other community partners to call for a swift resolution to the 8-year federal bench vacancy faced by the Eastern District Court of North Carolina. For background on this issue, click here. And for information on the campaign, Why Courts Matter, click here.

A joint press conference, led by the NC NAACP, was held Friday, May 02, and included Tara Romano, president of NCWU; Gailya Paliga, president of NC NOW; Alison Kiser, Director of Public Affairs at PPCNC; Vickie Boyer, local activist; and O’Linda Gillis, chair, Women in the NAACP NC. Tara Romano’s remarks are below. We will continue to work with our partners and members to resolve this issue to ensure the citizens of the Eastern District have access to a crucial tool for justice, the courts.

Press Statement – NCWU, May 02, 2014

Good morning. My name is Tara Romano, and I am the president of North Carolina Women United. North Carolina Women United is a coalition of organizations and individuals across the state working for the full social, political and economic equality for all women of North Carolina.

Thank you all for coming out this morning. We are here to address what has become classified as a “judicial emergency” in regards to the long vacant federal judge seat in the Eastern District of North Carolina. As we all know, the judicial system is our third branch of government, and as vital to a functioning democracy as our legislative and executive branches. In addition to providing a crucial check to potential overreach by either of those two branches, our courts also act as a gateway to justice for our citizens. Whether seeking redress for a crime committed against us or challenging a threat to our civil rights, courts are another way for citizens to access justice. In order for the system to be truly accessible, however, it must be fully functioning. The Eastern District presumably does not have an arbitrary number of seats, and likely requires each seat to be full because that is the number needed to adequately meet the needs of the citizens it serves.  The citizens of the 44 North Carolina counties served by the Eastern District are instead being asked to make do with the hole created by this eight-year vacancy.

Civic engagement is a core issue of North Carolina Women United, and we advocate for an open, transparent government that is responsive to its citizens. Unfortunately, the process on the nomination of Ms. May Parker has been anything but. 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. We appreciate that the U.S. Senate has this courtesy in place to the home state senators on federal judge appointees, and we ask that Senator Burr reciprocate that courtesy by returning the “blue slip” that would allow the nomination to move forward. We thank Senator Hagan for already doing this, and also call on her to do what she can as well to bring resolution to this critical situation. Courts matter to our democracy and the citizens of the Eastern District of North Carolina deserve better. Thank you.