Dole, Burr push to get judge confirmed

N.C. senators on Thursday called for a confirmation hearing for U.S. District Judge Robert Conrad of Charlotte, who was nominated to a federal appeals court nearly a year ago but has been stalled in a broader political fight over judicial nominations.

Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr, both Republicans, were flanked at a news conference by Conrad's supporters, including a Charlotte barber and former gang member who turned his life around with the judge's help.

Conrad would be only the second N.C. judge on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, joining Judge Allyson Duncan of Raleigh.

“His confirmation has been delayed for over 330 days and it is wrong to hold up this nomination, especially when he has been unanimously confirmed by the Senate twice before,” Burr said.

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said his party is following the GOP's lead.

“Among the reasons that Republican complaints about the 4th Circuit ring hollow is that the emergency vacancy on the 4th Circuit from North Carolina exists only because the Republican Senate majority refused to consider any of President Clinton's nominees to fill that vacancy,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the committee's ranking Republican, said he hoped to sit down with Leahy to get more nominees through.