Published on
by

Thomas Farr Is a Hack Too Far

Thomas Farr, an ambitious vote suppressor, was nominated for a spot on the federal bench

How's about you all get together and fight like hell to keep this gombeen off the federal bench. (Photo: Alex Brandon/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

How's about you all get together and fight like hell to keep this gombeen off the federal bench. (Photo: Alex Brandon/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

Comes now another test for Ben Sasse, and Susan Collins, and all the other Republicans who are terribly dismayed over the vandal in the White House, and what he is doing to our precious national dialogue and to our democratic institutions. How's about you all get together and fight like hell to keep this gombeen off the federal bench. It's bad enough that Mitch McConnell has made it his life's work to salt the federal judiciary with larval Scalias, but this guy, Thomas Farr, whose entire career has been as a kept Republican lawyer, and who was primarily responsible for a voter-suppression plan that a court said targeted minority voters "with almost surgical precision," should really be a hack too far, shouldn't he?

Ben?

Susie?

Anybody? Is this thing on? Hello?

From The Daily Beast:

In 2016, a federal appeals court struck down North Carolina’s array of voting restrictions, finding that they “target[ed] African Americans with almost surgical precision... The only clear factor linking these various ‘reforms’ is their impact on African American voters.” That was unprecedented language, and it was backed up with page after page of statistical evidence, legislative history, and data on the effects of the new rules.

The main author of the law was Thomas Farr. Farr also defended the law in court, disrespecting the circuit court by calling its landmark decision “ludicrous.”...

In 1990, Farr was the lawyer defending longtime segregationist Helms in a lawsuit over 125,000 postcards Helms’s campaign sent to predominantly African-American communities, falsely stating that they could be arrested for voter fraud at their polling stations. Ultimately the case was resolved by consent decree, which Farr signed. And though Farr later denied knowing about it, he was identified in a Justice Department memo as being present at the meeting when it was first discussed. The extent of Farr’s involvement with the postcard campaign has never been conclusively established.

As is the case with Chief Justice John Roberts, Farr has been on the voter-suppression train for his entire public career. Naturally, this is gotten him sideways with the Rev. William Barber, the official preacherman of the shebeen, who left every word unminced, writing in Time:

President Donald Trump’s pick for a lifetime seat on the federal bench in North Carolina is the latest sign of how our politics have descended. A white man with a 30-year record of white supremacy receiving the unqualified support of the President and our state’s two U.S. senators, while two qualified African-American women cannot even get a hearing, is not merely bad politics. It is moral poison. More than 50 years after the passage of the now-defunct Voting Rights Act, how can North Carolina still be stuck in this moral ditch?

See, Ben? Sue? This is an easy one. You can vote no on this guy. (If that stalls a whole battalion of these guys, well, that's just the way it goes.) You can demonstrate your commitment to bipartisanship by making McConnell pick some other product of the Federalist Society greenhouse who doesn't have the noxious track record that Farr has. Then Ben can go back to lecturing us on community, and Susan can go back to furrowing her brow over whatever the next atrocity she will have to vote for will be. And it's not like you guys can't make a difference; the White House already has pulled a couple of conspicuous lemons off the shelf. From the News and Observer:

Brett Talley, who has never tried a case and reportedly wrote a 2011 blog comment defending the Ku Klux Klan, no longer is a candidate. Nor is Jeff Mateer, who called the 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage “disgusting” and has called transgender children proof that “Satan’s plan is working.”

I mean, there have to be standards, right?

Alas, the early indication is that the Troubled Republican caucus is going to fail this test as it has failed almost all the others. Politico reported a year ago that Sasse, who voted last January to advance Farr's nomination out of committee, had responded to the American Bar Association's having rated several members of this clutch of nominees "unqualified" by questioning the ABA's bona fides.

“The ABA is a liberal advocacy organization. That’s not a bad thing. You can be a liberal advocacy organization,” Sasse argued at a recent hearing. “What’s not OK is being a liberal advocacy organization and be masquerading as a neutral, objective evaluator of these judicial candidates.”

As for Collins, well, according to Politico again, she's once again Susan Collinsing the whole question in that ineffable Susan Collinsish way.

That leaves Republicans no margin for error in the narrowly divided Senate, since all 49 Democrats are opposed to the nomination. Democrats said privately they believed that Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) or Susan Collins (R-Maine) might be swayed to oppose Farr. A spokeswoman for Murkowski declined to comment, and Collins said she’d “given thought” to his nomination and was still deliberating.

How does this woman ever order lunch?

All it takes is one of you, since it looks like Jeff Flake is going to follow through on his threat to vote against all judicial nominees until the Senate passes a bill protecting the Mueller investigation. One of the two of you votes no and Mr. Surgical Precision goes back to the restricted country club bar and one small dose of "moral poison" gets leached out of the body politic. Consult St. James, if you don't believe me. Faith without works and all of that.

Update (3:23 p.m.): Susan Collins remains the most Susan Collins-est of all Susan Collinses. From CNN's Manu Raju:

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do.

Charles P. Pierce

Charles P. Pierce

Charles P. Pierce is a writer-at-large for Esquire and his work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the LA Times Magazine, the Nation, the Atlantic, Sports Illustrated and The Chicago Tribune, among others.

Share This Article