Thomas Farr's Nomination to Federal Judgeship Is on Hold At Least Until Senate Returns in January; If Trump Renominates, Farr Would Face Another Vote Before a Revamped Senate Judiciary Committee | News
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Friday, December 22, 2017

Thomas Farr's Nomination to Federal Judgeship Is on Hold At Least Until Senate Returns in January; If Trump Renominates, Farr Would Face Another Vote Before a Revamped Senate Judiciary Committee

Posted by on Fri, Dec 22, 2017 at 6:10 PM

The U.S. Senate has sent the nominations of Raleigh lawyer Thomas Farr and those other of President Donald Trump's judicial picks back to the White House, with the result that Farr could have a second hearing before a revamped Senate Judiciary Committee. ssss

Farr's nomination to become a Federal District Judge in Eastern North Carolina did not get a hearing by the full Senate, but Trump can elect to renominate any or all of his choices to the Senate for consideration when the body returns in January, or at any point after that. Three of Trump's original picks have been withdrawn from consideration on various grounds, although he has succeeded in having twelve appeals court judges approved.
Raleigh lawyer Thomas Farr
  • Raleigh lawyer Thomas Farr

Nominated by Trump in July, Farr has been controversial because of his advocacy for Voter ID, partisan redistricting and other methods that criticss say are designed to suppress enrollment by African Americans. In a ddition, his response to questions from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have been called into question by a former Department of Justice civil rights attorney, Gerry Hebert.

The questions concerned whether Farr had prior knowledge of a postcard mailing, part of the 1990 senatorial campaign of Sen. Jesse Helms, that a 1992 federal consent decree said was designed to intimidate black voters. Farr, counsel to Helms campaigns in 1984 and 1990, told Feinstein in a written response that he had no prior knowledge of the mailing until the Department of Justice got in touch with Helms staff over complaints about the postcards.

Thursday, Farr sent a letter to Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, denying any knowledge of the content of the 1990 postcards, which included false information about penalties for voting after moving.

He also told Booker that he had taken part in a meeting in October in which "ballot security" initiatives were discussed.

“There are glaring questions regarding Farr’s testimony," Chris Kang, a former deputy counsel to Barack Obama who is following judicial nominations, said Friday. "The only way to address them is through another hearing, and Farr himself should welcome this opportunity.

"The decision will be up to Chairman Grassley, and I hope he does the right thing.”

Several civil rights groups have made public letters to committee chairman Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republic, calling for a second hearing for Farr.

Farr said in his letter to Booker: ""When I first saw the language on the card after it had been mailed and was advised as to whom it had been mailed, I was appalled. I immediately recommended that the Helms committee cancel their 1990 ballot security program which they did."

Farr has not responded to repeated request for comment from the INDY.

Because the Senate will have two new members in January, the Judiciary Committee will have at least one and perhaps two different members. One of the new members will replace Sen. Al Franken, the Minnesota Democrat who stepped down from office following accusations of sexual impropriety.

In addition, Alabama Sen.-elect Doug Jones, a Democrat, will join the body in January after winning a special election this month. Senate leaders could agree that another Democrat should be named to Senate Judiciary, resulting in an 11-10 GOP-Democratic split.

Jones' membership will result in a 51-49 balance of power, with Republicans continuing in the majority.

Advocacy groups have taken the position that the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee should have an African American member.

If Grassley takes that direction, the new member would be either Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat, or Sen. Cory Booker, the New Jersey Democrat who has already called for Farr  to testify for Senate Judiciary a second time.

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