Thomas Farr, President Trump’s pick for the federal district court in Eastern North Carolina, is inching closer to a confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate’s lame-duck session, thanks to a cloture motion filed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Raleigh-based attorney has defended state Republicans in several controversial voter ID and gerrymandering cases. Last year, as the INDY first reported, a former federal attorney claimed that Farr lied under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his role in voter intimidation tactics employed against blacks in during Senator Jesse Helms’s 1990 re-election campaign.
McConnell’s move was quickly condemned by voting-rights advocates.
“Even among dangerous Trump nominees, Farr stands out for his decades-long crusade to disenfranchise African Americans,” the NAACP wrote in a statement. “He learned how to intimidate Black voters from segregationist Senator Jesse Helms and helped turn North Carolina into ground zero for voter suppression.”
“His nomination is a travesty,” it continued. “His confirmation would be heresy. “
On Twitter Thursday evening, U.S. Representative GK Butterfield, whose district overlaps with parts of the federal court district to which Farr was nominated, said his elevation to the federal court would be a “grave disservice.”
Thomas Farr’s elevation to a lifetime seat on the federal bench would be a grave disservice to millions of North Carolinians who rely on the courts to uphold critical legal rights and protections.
— G. K. Butterfield (@GKButterfield) November 15, 2018
Progressive organization People for the American Way said that Farr had a “prolific record as a relentlessly partisan litigator.” It also condemned the nomination of U.S. Circuit Court nominee Jonathan Kobes.
“If Mitch McConnell and [Judiciary Committee chairman] Chuck Grassley were looking to illustrate their reckless and irresponsible approach to rubber stamping Trump’s dangerous judicial nominations, they couldn’t do much better than Thomas Farr and Jonathan Kobes,” PFAW vice president Marge Baker said in a statement. “Both these nominees are grossly unqualified for lifetime seats on the federal bench—just a few years ago they would have been laughed out of the Senate—but as examples of how McConnell and Grassley have debased the Senate in pursuit of their ultra-partisan agenda, they’re perfect.
The organization Alliance for Justice, meanwhile, argued that the timing of these nominations was suspect. The next Congress will convene in January, and if Farr is not approved before then, Trump will have to renominate him.
“The Senate Republican leadership is attempting to ram through two of President Trump’s most troubling judicial nominations during the lame-duck session, when they think few Americans are watching,” AFJ said. “These are among the most flawed nominations Trump has made, and it’s telling that they are being advanced now. Senators should refuse to go along with this ploy and should not confirm two people who are so undeserving of lifetime seats on the federal bench.”