Donald Trump’s nomination of veteran right-wing advocate Thomas Farr to a lifetime appointment as a federal judge in North Carolina’s Eastern District could receive a final Senate vote this week and the opposition from civil rights groups has turned into a true firestorm. The issue has also become entangled in the promise of retiring Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona not to vote for any additional Trump nominees until there is a vote on legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller. As the New York Times reports:
Democrats have united behind a bid to derail the district court nomination of a judge who defended a racially gerrymandered House map in North Carolina and helped draft the state’s voter ID law, efforts that federal courts found were specifically designed to disenfranchise African-American voters, in one case, “with almost surgical precision”….
“It is no exaggeration to say that had the White House deliberately sought to identify an attorney in North Carolina with a more hostile record on African-American voting rights and workers’ rights than Thomas Farr, it could hardly have done so,” the Congressional Black Caucus wrote to the Judiciary Committee.
Among the civil rights organizations demanding that Farr be stopped are the NAACP and the Lawyers Committee for Civil rights Under Law. The NAACP called on Farr to withdraw yesterday saying:
Thomas Farr needs to withdraw his nomination immediately. We’ve always known Thomas Farr as the architect of the worst voter suppression law in the country. However, we have now found that he was more deeply engaged than anyone knew in intimidating Black voters during not one, but two of Jesse Helms’ campaigns for U.S. Senate.
This new revelation places him squarely at the center of notorious voter intimidation, not only in 1990 but in 1984. The activity was so egregious that President George H.W. Bush’s Justice Department sued the Helms campaign for violations of the Voting Rights Act. Farr is even identified in the complaint. In other Justice Department memoranda, he is described as the “coordinator” of “ballot security measures” designed to suppress the Black vote.
Farr not only defended voter suppression; he committed it himself. Moreover, he lied about his involvement to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Thomas Farr’s nomination is a disgrace to the justice system. If you engage in voter intimidation—anytime, anywhere—you should not become a federal judge in this country.
North Carolina NAACP leader T. Anthony Spearman is leading a delegation to Washington today. The group issued a statement from former U.S. Senate candidate Harvey Gantt opposing the nomination.
And this is from a Lawyers Committee communique late last night:
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law issued the following statement on the nomination of District Court nominee Thomas Farr. The statement followed new revelations yielded from a 1991 memorandum from the U.S. Justice Department regarding Farr’s role in schemes targeting African American voters dating back as far as 1984.
“New and damning information yielded from a 1991 Justice Department memorandum reveals that Thomas Farr was both architect and executioner of voter suppression tactics, including schemes dating back as far as 1984 targeting Black voters in North Carolina,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The Justice Department described Farr as the ‘primary coordinator’ of these schemes. This new information provides further evidence of the bias that Farr would bring to the federal bench. Moving forward with this nomination in light of this new evidence would make a mockery of the Senate’s advice and consent obligation. The Justice Department memo reveals a nominee who has been bent on suppressing the African-American vote for the past 34 years and raises questions about Farr’s truthfulness during the confirmation process.”
Clarke continued: “Americans deserve judges who will be fair, independent and impartial. Farr doesn’t fit the bill.”