Thomas Farr is not just another one of President Donald Trump’s conservative judicial nominations.
A group of civil rights leaders spoke on a teleconference about their collective opposition to Farr’s nomination to the U.S. District Court bench in the Eastern District of North Carolina. The judicial vacancy is the longest running one across the nation at over 11 years.
Farr, who is a well known GOP attorney who has spent his career fighting against civil rights, was initially nominated by Trump in July of 2017 and then re-nominated again in January.
“It’s an insult to African Americans in the Eastern District and across the country,” said Janai Nelson, associate Director-Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
The Eastern District of North Carolina houses almost half of the state’s Black population, but there has never been a Black federal judge there in the District Court’s 145-year history.
Nelson was joined by Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Hilary Shelton, Director to the NAACP’s Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy, and a representative for the Rev. Dr. William Barber, President of Repairers of the Breach.
They expressed outrage that someone with Farr’s background and ties to white supremacists like Jesse Helms could serve on the federal bench and be trusted to administer justice fairly.
“Now more than ever, it’s crucial that judges who serve on the federal bench are fair and independent,” Gupta said. “He stands out among the nominees.”
She added that his nomination was part of the Trump administration’s larger plans to implement barriers to voting and roll back voting rights.
“All people in America deserve to have a justice system that lives up to its name,” Gupta said. “This administration has done what no recent administration has done and repeatedly rejects the need for diversity on our courts.”
Shelton referred to Farr as the “vote suppressor in chief” and called on Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject his nomination.
“Jesse Helms may be gone but in too many ways he lives on in Thomas Farr,” he said. “We must protect this court from the stain of bias and prejudice.”
Republicans only need one defector to defeat Farr’s nomination, as Sen. Jeff Flake from Arizona said he would not be voting to confirm any more judicial nominees until his colleagues vote on a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.