With the nomination of vehement voter suppression defender Thomas Farr effectively sunk, voting rights groups on Thursday applauded the constituents of Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the sole black Republican senator, for successfully pressuring him to oppose the confirmation due to grave concerns over Farr's history of racist and anti-democratic political campaigning.
After deliberating and dragging his feet following Farr's nomination, Scott ultimately cited Farr's role on former Sen. Jesse Helms' 1992 campaign in which postcards were sent to black voters in North Carolina telling them they were ineligible to vote and would be arrested if they went to the polls. Farr led Helms' legal team on the campaign.
Scott joined all 49 members of the Democratic caucus and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) in pledging to oppose Farr's nomination, leaving Republicans with only 49 votes versus the Democrats' 51.
The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law praised Scott for stopping the confirmation of the "most polarizing, dangerous, and biased nominee that we have seen put forth by President Trump."
"We applaud Senator Tim Scott for exercising independence in the examination of Farr's disturbing record; a record influenced by the modern white supremacist machine that former North Carolina senator Jesse Helms pioneered, and one that demonstrated bias and a commitment to defending voter suppression efforts at every turn," said Kristen Clarke, president of the group, in a statement. "Americans deserve lifetime nominees who bring a basic commitment to the principles of fairness and independence. We urge other Senators to follow Scott's lead and to cease the practice of blindly rubber-stamping nominees."
The group also joined others in applauding Scott's constituents, who vocally resisted Farr's nomination and demanded he do the same.
VICTORY! Thomas Farr nomination collapses as Senator Tim Scott announces his opposition.
This outcome is one secured by The People -- speaking up, resisting and remaining steadfast in our opposition. https://t.co/kcFzmYBQIf
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— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) November 29, 2018
South Carolinians saw this happening yesterday and got straight to work changing Tim Scott’s mind.
Thomas Farr, someone who promotes voter suppression and racist policies, WILL NOT serve on the federal bench.
Y’all really did that
— Meghan Durant (@meghanedurant) November 29, 2018
Farr was nominated by President Donald Trump for a lifetime appointment to North Carolina's Eastern District Court, which covers 44 counties in the state and whose population is 27 percent black.
His nomination sparked outrage among voting rights groups due not only to his work on Helms' campaign, which was detailed in a memo obtained by the Washington Post, but also his defense of North Carolina's GOP-led legislators in lawsuits over the state's restrictive voter ID law and its heavily gerrymandered congressional map, which was struck down by a federal court in 2016. In 2007 Farr also publicly praised Helms' top strategist, Thomas Ellis, who ran a white supremacist group that promoted eugenics research.
"It would have been an enormous mistake to confirm Thomas Farr to the federal bench, a mistake that would have cast a shadow over both the Senate and the judiciary for decades to come," Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. "Farr was plainly unqualified for a lifetime judicial appointment, especially in the Eastern District of North Carolina, where he actively worked to suppress the vote and had ties to a white supremacist group. A majority of senators have wisely announced their opposition to Farr’s nomination. We are grateful to Senator Scott and others for placing the integrity of our courts ahead of partisan politics."