CBC, Norton, Conyers, Butterfield Urge Senate Judiciary Committee to Reject NC District Court Nomination
Today, Congressman Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Chairwoman of the CBC Judicial Nominations Working Group and Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) urged the chairman and top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the nomination of Thomas A. Farr for a lifetime seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina because of his dismal record in opposition to voting rights and workers’ rights.
Farr has a decades-long record of defending voter suppression tactics such as voter intimidation, voter ID laws, and racial gerrymandering. In 1992, as the lawyer for former Senator Jesse Helms’ reelection campaign, he defended the campaign against U.S. Department of Justice complaints of voter intimidation after the campaign sent post cards to 100,000 black voters saying they were ineligible to vote and may be arrested for voting. He has also supported laws that weaken protections against employment discrimination.
“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 CBC Members wrote. “We believe that Mr. Farr’s record raises serious questions regarding his commitment to equal justice under the law that disqualifies him from service on the federal bench. Accordingly, we urge the Judiciary Committee to reject his nomination.”
Full text of the letter is attached and online. Additional excerpts from the letter are below.
“Mr. Farr…defended the State of North Carolina when it tried to enact one of the most discriminatory election laws in the country: one that the Fourth Circuit ruled had targeted African-American voters “with almost surgical precision.” Not only did the law implement a strict voter photo ID requirement, it selectively and deliberately struck down several voting practices used mainly by voters of color. Mr. Farr has also fought for racially gerrymandered voting districts in North Carolina that would dilute the voting power of African Americans, at both the state and federal level. For example, he opposed redistricting plans designed to afford more equitable representation to African-American voters, and advocated for schemes that would concentrate African-American votes in a smaller number of districts.”
“Moreover, Mr. Farr, who would have to rule on cases brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, has championed eliminating legal protections for employment discrimination. He said, in his private capacity, that it was “better policy for the state” when the North Carolina Legislature eliminated the right of workers discriminated on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability to bring any employment discrimination lawsuit in state court. He also successfully fought to invalidate a county ordinance that protected employees from discrimination. It is no surprise, therefore, that he has also spent years defending businesses that have sought to discriminate against workers and consumers. For example, Mr. Farr defended the car rental agency Avis when it was sued for denying African Americans the right to rent cars on the same terms as white customers.”
History of This Judicial Vacancy
“In our view, it is also not inconsequential that the seat for which Farr has been nominated was twice denied in recent years to nominees who are women of color. This seat currently represents the longest judicial vacancy in the country, in no small measure because Republicans refused to confirm two Obama judicial nominees, Jennifer May-Parker and Patricia Timmons-Goodson. Both were blocked by the withholding of a blue slip by Senator Richard Burr. If either May-Parker or Timmons-Goodson had been confirmed, it would have been the first time that an African-American judge sat on the Eastern District in the court’s 143-year history.”
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