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Democrats are desperately trying to block a Trump judicial nominee



Thomas Alvin Farr
Thomas Alvin Farr

  • The Senate is planning to vote next week on the nomination of
    Thomas Farr — a deeply controversial conservative lawyer who
    civil rights leaders say has “practiced white supremacy” — to a
    federal district court in North Carolina.
  • The chamber narrowly voted to advance Farr’s nomination on
    Wednesday, but Democrats are hoping that at least two Republicans
    will oppose him in a final vote. 
  • Democrats are centering their attacks on Farr’s “sordid
    history” of defending voter ID laws, some of which have been
    struck down as racially discriminatory. 

The Senate is scheduled to vote next week on the nomination of
Thomas Farr — a deeply controversial conservative lawyer who
civil rights leaders say has “practiced white supremacy” — to a
federal district court in North Carolina. 

With a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence,
he chamber advanced Farr’s nomination on Wednesday.
However, Democrats are hoping at least one Republican will oppose
Farr in a final confirmation vote along with Sen. Jeff
Flake, the retiring Arizona Republican who has pledged to oppose
all of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees until his party
allows a vote on legislation that would protect the special
counsel’s Russia probe. 

Democrats have their eyes on the Senate’s only black Republican,
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who has not committed to a
final vote in Farr’s favor. 

Flake said on Thursday that he was “uncomfortable
with Farr and wouldn’t have voted to confirm him even without his
boycott on nominations. 

The seat on the US District Court for the Eastern District of
North Carolina has gone unfilled since 2005 after Democrats first
rejected Farr’s nomination by former President George W. Bush in
2006 and Republicans did not provide hearings to President Barack
Obama’s two nominees, both black women. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats are
pointing to Farr’s “sordid history” of defending and implementing
voter suppression tactics. 

Over the last decade, Farr and his law firm colleagues have
defended voting restrictions and voter ID laws that courts have
struck down as deliberately discriminatory — in one case an
appeals court said a North Carolina law Farr defended targeted
black voters “with almost surgical precision.”

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Schumer slammed Farr this week as the “chief cook and bottle
washer for the state that probably did more to prevent people,
particularly African-Americans from voting, than any other

Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to the press after Republican Senator
Ted Cruz (not Pictured) held a marathon attack on “Obamacare” at
the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 25,


Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams, both black gubernatorial
candidates in Florida and Georgia who lost their elections to
Trump-supporting Republicans this month, also issued a statement
condemning Farr’s record. 

“When it comes to the trifecta of voter disenfranchisement —
voter suppression, racial gerrymandering, and restriction of
voting rights — Thomas Farr is, sadly, one of the most
experienced election lawyers in the country,” they wrote in a
on Tuesday.

The Congressional Black Caucus has voiced strong opposition to
Farr since he was first nominated by the president last

“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 of Farr in a September 2017
letter opposing his

Farr began his career as counsel to former US Sen. Jesse Helms, a
segregationist who represented North Carolina for 30 years. The
Justice Department accused Farr of helping to orchestrate the
mailing of postcards to 100,000 black voters during Helms’
1990 Senate campaign that wrongly suggested the black citizens
were ineligible to vote and warned they could be arrested and
prosecuted for fraud if they tried to.

Farr has denied any involvement in the incident, but civil
rights leaders, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and
Human Rights, have accused Farr of lying to the Senate about his
role. Scott has said he’s investigating Farr’s role “at every
facet of the process.”

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a Texas Republican,

said on Thursday
that Scott has “legitimate concerns that
we’re trying to resolve” before next week’s vote. 

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