What does Jesse Helms have against North Carolina? For more than a year, Helms has blocked the appointment of N.C. Appeals Court Judge James Wynn to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Helms' stance does a disservice not only to Judge Wynn, but to all North Carolinians.
The court - which has a vacancy because of the passing of Judge Murnaghan of Maryland - oversees federal cases in five states. Although North Carolina is the largest state in the 4th Circuit, no one from this state serves on the court.
This situation is not only unfair to our state - it is against the law. Under federal law, each circuit court must include a judge from every state in the circuit.
Yet Helms continues to keep North Carolina at bay - Judge Wynn is not the only North Carolina nominee the senator has failed to support.
In addition, the 4th Circuit, which has the largest African-American population of any circuit in the entire nation, is the only federal appeals court that has never had a minority judge. Judge Wynn, a highly qualified jurist in his own right, would make the court at least slightly more representative of the population it serves.
The passing of Judge Murnaghan, while unfortunate, provides an opportunity for our state. Here's hoping that Helms finally supports Judge Wynn's nomination and gives North Carolina the appeals court presence it morally - and legally - deserves.
Barbara K. Allen
N.C. Democratic Party