A key Republican senator has come out against Thomas Farr’s nomination to the federal bench, potentially dooming Farr’s confirmation unless the vote count changes.
“I am ready and willing to support strong candidates for our judicial vacancies that do not have lingering concerns about issues that could affect their decision-making process as a federal judge,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) said in a statement quoted by The State newspaper. “This week, a Department of Justice memo written under President George H.W. Bush was released that shed new light on Mr. Farr’s activities. This, in turn, created more concerns. Weighing these important factors, this afternoon I concluded that I could not support Mr. Farr’s nomination.”
In addition to Scott, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has said he will vote against Trump judicial nominees, including Farr, until a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe is allowed a vote.
Democrats have objected to Farr based on his role in voter suppression legislation employed in North Carolina, where he is nominated to be a judge in the Eastern District. As a lawyer for the Republican legislative majority, Farr defended a law that a panel of appeals court judges wrote targeted African American voters with “almost surgical precision.”
The law reduced early voting; eliminated same-day registration, voting out-of-precinct and pre-registration of high schoolers; and created a new requirement for photo identification.
The document Scott referred to in his statement, recently obtained by the Washington Post, is a Justice Department memo on Sen. Jesse Helms’ 1990 campaign. Helms’ campaign, for which Farr served as lead counsel, sent postcards “designed to intimidate and threaten black voters throughout the State of North Carolina in order to discourage them from participating in the November 6, 1990 general election,” the memo said.
Farr denied knowing anything about the postcards before they were sent. The suit, in which Farr defended Helms’ campaign, ended in a consent decree.