Thomas Farr’s nomination last year to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina ended because of concerns about his ties to voter suppression, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be re-nominated this year.
McClatchy reported from Washington that new Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham will meet for the first time this year with White House officials to discuss the fate of judicial nominees that languished in the previous Congress, including Farr.
At the meeting, “we’re gonna kind of go through the list and see who to renominate, what problems there might be, that kind of stuff,” Graham, R-South Carolina, told McClatchy. Graham officially became committee chairman Wednesday.
Last year, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the Senate’s only black Republican, determined Farr’s involvement in a voter suppression strategy in the 1990 reelection campaign of Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina, was disqualifying.
At that point, the Senate had 51 Republicans, meaning Farr could only afford to lose two votes if the Senate’s 47 Democrats and two independents opposed him, as expected. Then-Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, on the verge of retirement, also said he would oppose Farr.
Democrats and civil rights groups cheered Scott’s decision and what appeared to be the end of Farr’s chances to win a lifetime judicial appointment: Though his nomination was never formally withdrawn, Farr had been tainted with accusations of racist activity.
Yet Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, said this week he was still looking into whether he would push to have Farr, who has longstanding ties with Republicans in the state, re-nominated.
All judicial nominees that were pending in the previous legislative session must be re-nominated by President Donald Trump to the new Congress that was seated last week if the judges are to be confirmed.
“We’re looking at it right now,” Tillis told McClatchy of Farr.
The White House has not commented on its deliberations.
Trump nominated Farr in July 2017 and then re-nominated him in January 2018. The judicial vacancy he could fill is the longest running one across the nation at over 11 years.
Civil rights leaders have been outspoken in their opposition to Farr’s confirmation, particularly to the Eastern District of North Carolina, which houses almost half of the state’s Black population, but has never had a Black federal judge there in the District Court’s 145-year history.
Former President Barack Obama nominated two accomplished and experienced Black women to fill the vacancy, Jennifer May-Parker and Patricia Timmons-Goodson. N.C. Sen. Richard Burr blocked both nominations.
Read the full McClatchy article on Farr’s potential re-nomination here.