DURHAM, N.C. — A North Carolina lawmaker has met opposition in an attempt to name a federal courthouse for a black attorney.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield introduced a bill seeking to name the federal courthouse in Durham for his late mentor, John Hervey Wheeler. But Butterfield said Republican Reps. George Holding and Robert Pittenger won’t back his bill because he wouldn’t sign a bill to name another federal building in North Carolina after U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms.

Spokesman Stephen Billy said Pittenger deferred comment to Holding because “the building of interest” to honor Helms is in Holding’s district. Holding’s spokesman didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Tuesday.

Wheeler was a lawyer who challenged educational segregation in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. He also headed The Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People.

Butterfield’s bill, HR 3460, was introduced in the U.S. House last Thursday and was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, chaired by U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa. If the committee votes in favor of the bill, it would move to the House floor for a vote. A favorable vote would send the bill to the Senate.

Congress looks for all of a state’s representatives to support such legislation, Butterfield said, and without full support, passage may be a challenge.

“Mr. Helms was an international figure who was highly controversial and John Wheeler was a state figure, who was a state leader, who was not controversial. . And (Holding) didn’t accept that,” Butterfield said.


Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com