It turns out that yes, there are federal judges that won't get rubber-stamped by the Senate GOP. You actually can be too much of a racist asshole to get a lifetime federal judgeship, and former Jesse Helms campaign lawyer and NC judge Robert Farr was too much for South Carolina GOP Sen. Tim Scott and outgoing Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake.
Sen. Tim Scott said Thursday he will oppose the nomination of Thomas Farr to the federal bench, assuring the controversial pick will not be confirmed.
The South Carolina Republican was the deciding vote in determining whether Farr, accused of efforts to disenfranchise black voters, would become a U.S. District Court judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina. The seat has been open since Jan. 1, 2006.
Scott’s decision comes after four days of intense drama and speculation about what the Senate’s only black Republican would do.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, made it clear earlier in the day he, too, would oppose Farr’s nomination. Senate Republicans could only afford to lose one vote and still confirm Farr. Senate Republicans control 51 seats, and all 49 Democratic caucus members announced they would oppose Farr.
In a brief statement explaining his decision, Scott cited a 1991 Department of Justice memo obtained by The Washington Post this week, just days before the Senate was set to vote on Farr’s confirmation. It detailed Farr’s involvement in “ballot security” activities by the 1984 and 1990 campaigns of then-Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina.
Farr worked for the campaign in 1984 and represented the 1990 campaign as a lawyer.
Helms’ 1990 re-election campaign against former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt, who is black, included charges of voter intimidation for postcards mailed to primarily black voters warning of possible arrest at the polls. The Department of Justice investigated the voter intimidation claims and settled with the Helms campaign in a consent decree.
“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,” Scott said in his statement. “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.”
The 1991 memo said that “Farr was the primary coordinator of the 1984 ‘ballot security’ program conducted by the NCGOP and 1984 Helms for Senate Committee. He coordinated several ‘ballot security’ activities in 1984, including a postcard mailing to voters in predominantly black precincts which was designed to serve as a basis to challenge voters on election day.”
Farr is an old school master of caging, a guy so racist that Poppy Bush's DoJ called him out on it. It's not going to make up for the decades of awfulness that will be caused by the Trump judges Scott and Flake have already rubber-stamped, but it's one slightly human thing to happen.
Farr should never have been considered, but at least one racist lost this week. From a person who grew up in NC apologizing to people for the monster that Jesse Helms was as a Senator for years, it's something that is personally meaningful.
It's a victory we have to take.