Courts & the Law, News

Trump releases new federal judicial nominees; Farr not among them

Thomas Farr

Thomas Farr was not included among a list of nominees President Donald Trump sent Wednesday to the Senate.

Farr previously was nominated and re-nominated by Trump to fill the longest running judicial vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. He never got a vote last year after Republicans broke ranks amid concerns about his ties to voter suppression.

There was some question about whether Trump would nominate Farr again, and North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis recently told McClatchy he was still looking into whether he would have to push to make that happen.

It is unclear if Farr is still being considered for the lifetime appointment, as no one else was named in a news release of nominees to fill the Eastern District vacancy. Democrats and civil rights leaders have been adamantly opposing Farr’s nomination, 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.

Trump did re-nominate a number of people for other judgeships, including former federal prosecutor and current Charlotte-area attorney Kenneth Bell to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina and North Carolinian Allison Jones Rushing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

He also re-nominated dozens of judges that have been opposed by progressive court advocates across the nation and organizations fighting for abortion and LGBTQ rights.

In response to Trump’s announcement, People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker issued the following statement:

“Donald Trump has spent the last two years nominating some of the most extreme, unqualified judicial nominees in recent memory. At the end of last year, in the face of strong opposition by Democrats, the Senate sent back dozens of those nominees to the White House. The intervening weeks haven’t made those nominees any better. The list includes nominees like Chad Readler, who signed onto a brief attempting to strip millions of Americans of the ACA’s protections for people with preexisting conditions — a brief so extreme that three other Department of Justice officials resigned rather than put their name to it. It includes nominees like Eric Murphy, who fought to make it easier to strip voters, especially African American voters, of their right to cast a ballot. It includes Wendy Vitter, who pushed dishonest junk science to scare women about abortion, and Neomi Rao, who cast rape as ‘a choice’ made by women who drink too much.

“These nominees are blatantly unqualified for lifetime seats on the federal bench. The fact that Republicans have fallen in lockstep behind so many unfit judicial nominations is an appalling testament to their willingness to put partisanship over principle and the wellbeing of their constituents. Democrats need to stand up against this kind of extremism with everything they’ve got and make clear that they won’t be a party to Trump’s effort to pack the courts with extreme, unqualified nominees.”

Planned Parenthood Action Fund also released a statement after the news expressing their disappointment in the new, not-so-new nominees.

“The courts’ power to dictate people’s access to health care cannot be overstated. Long after Trump and [Vice President Mike] Pence are out of office, the judges they put on the bench will continue restricting people’s access to abortion, birth control, and basic care for generations,” said Dana Singiser, Senior Vice President, Policy, Campaigns, and Advocacy of PPAF. “The American people want and deserve judges who will safeguard their rights, rather than try to impose their personal beliefs on all people. We call on all senators to reject these and any nominees who will not protect individual liberties and freedoms.”

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