The Rev. William Barber II again took up his campaign against Raleigh lawyer Thomas Farr’s nomination to a federal court seat Thursday, this time using the pages of Time magazine to criticize as “moral poison” President Donald Trump’s choice of Farr.
Former state NAACP chair Barber, a Goldsboro pastor, is increasingly operating on a national platform. In late December he appeared on the op-ed page of the New York Times, also to oppose Farr’s appointment to a federal Judgeship in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Barer cited Farr’s past association with Sen. Jesse Helms and his advocacy for voting-rights legislation that courts have found disc riminatory.
“I’ve spent my whole life in North Carolina, and I know Farr,” Barber says in Time. “I know what he’s done, what he stands for and just how detrimental he will be to his constituents if confirmed.”
Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the state Republican Party, responded to Barber’s piece as race-baiting that dishonors Farr, whom Woodhouse described as “a man of character, honor and distinction.” If, like Barber, public figures criticize lawyers for representing the state of North Carolina, “Many Democrats will be affected,” Woodhouse says.
Barber’s thousand-word-plus opinion piece joins a series of protests against Farr, who received a favorable recommendation from the Senate Judiciary Committee last year, then saw his nomination returned to the White House. North Carolina’s U.S. senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, strongly support Farr.
Trump has sent the nomination back to the Senate, where it will require a vote from a newly constituted judicial committee containing Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ.)
“He will be confirmed and he will be on the court,” Woodhouse says in a heated response to the INDY.
Farr’s nomination will get another vote because of the committee’s new membership, but will only receive a second hearing if Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, requests it. With a GOP majority on the committee, a Republican senator would have to oppose Farr’s nomination for it to fail to reach the Senate floor.
Civil rights-linked groups such as the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund have spoken out against the nomination since the White House announced it in July.
“Farr has been the lead attorney in a series of recent legislative efforts to suppress political participation by African Americans in the state,” Barber writes. “In 2010, Farr advised the General Assembly in what federal courts later termed a ‘racial gerrymander’ of North Carolina House, Senate and U.S. Congressional districts. In separate lawsuits, each of these redistricting plans was determined to have discriminated against African-American voters.”
Farr has not responded to several requests for comment from the INDY. The attorney, who has spent much of his career in labor law, denied charges against him in a letter responding to Booker’s questions about his background with Helms and the possibility that he misled the Judiciary Committee in testimony about his involvement in a 1990 postcard campaign described as discriminatory by the federal justice department.
Farr and former Helms operative Carter Wrenn have denied that Farr played any role in the campaign, which included false information about voting procedures and was designed to be used after election day or challenging voters who had changed addresses, according to a 1992 federal complaint.
Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, cites scripture in his piece to make his case to a national audience.
“Amos 5:15 says, ‘Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts,’” he writes. ”To place someone who shows conspicuous contempt for equal protection under the law and a racist mindset is not only the wrong use of the judiciary, it is an offense of the moral law of God.”