Senate Republicans Must Reject Anti-Voting Rights Nominee Thomas Farr
"Left, right or center, everyone should be disturbed that Mr. Farr has been involved — often directly — in repeated attempts to disenfranchise African-American voters."
November 28, 2018 at 12:36 am
Over the past two years, President Trump has sent the Senate some highly questionable judicial nominees, but this week, the Senate is about to vote on someone who is unquestionably one of the worst: the nomination of Mr. Thomas Farr to be a judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Not only has Mr. Farr spent his long legal career working against unions and the right of workers to organize, he is a dyed-in-the-wool partisan who has worked hand-in-hand with Republicans in North Carolina to roll back the voting rights of American citizens, with a particular focus on suppressing the votes of African Americans.
— Mr. Farr has challenged multiple congressional maps drawn by North Carolina’s Democrats, while vigorously defending the discriminatory congressional maps drawn by North Carolina’s Republicans, which the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional.
— Mr. Farr also defended North Carolina’s discriminatory election laws, including the state’s absurdly restrictive voter ID law. The law was passed after Republicans in the legislature requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices. After receiving the data, North Carolina Republicans made five changes to voting and registration, all of which disproportionately affected African Americans. Under the law, even citizens who showed government employee IDs, student IDs, or IDs used to receive public assistance were not allowed to vote. In the words of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, the law had "discriminatory intent" and "targeted African Americans with almost surgical precision." Mr. Farr not only defended the law, he called the blatantly discriminatory requirements a “minor inconvenience” for voters.
— Remarkably, Mr. Farr was involved in another sordid affair regarding the voting rights of African Americans. In 1990, Mr. Farr was a lawyer on the re-election campaign of Republican Senator Jesse Helms, during which the Department of Justice alleged that over 120,000 postcards had been sent overwhelmingly to black voters intended to intimidate them from voting.
Your partisan affiliation shouldn’t matter. Left, right or center, everyone should be disturbed that Mr. Farr has been involved — often directly — in repeated attempts to disenfranchise African-American voters. The Senate should not elevate a person to the federal bench who has spent a good part of his career defending those who want to undermine the right of Americans to vote.
Mr. Farr’s nomination is even more galling considering the circumstances surrounding this judicial opening. The seat Mr. Farr would fill is currently the longest-running judicial vacancy in the United States. The principle reason being that Republican Senators blocked two Obama nominees, both of whom were African-American women.
Either of these women would have become the first African-American ever – not just the first African-American woman, but the first African-American ever – to serve in that district, which is 27 percent African-American.
Instead of confirming either of those well-qualified African-American women, Senate Republicans refused to even allow them to come up for a vote. In their place, Senate Republicans, along with President Trump, have given us Mr. Farr, someone who has spent much of his career working to disenfranchise African Americans. It’s as shameful as it sounds.
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