Republican Tim Scott bucks his own party to vote against a Trump judicial nominee accused of defending racially discriminatory voter suppression

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump with South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott.
  • Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, announced he will become the deciding vote in opposing President Donald Trump’s controversial judicial nominee Thomas Farr.
  • The sole black member of the Republican Senate caucus, Scott based his opposition to Farr on accusations that the lawyer helped orchestrate an effort to disenfranchise black voters while working for segregationist GOP Sen. Jesse Helms’ 1984 and 1990 Senate campaigns.
  • Scott cited a 1991 Department of Justice memo leaked this week that detailed Farr’s involvement in the voter suppression efforts.

Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican and the sole black member of the Republican Senate caucus, announced he will oppose judicial nominee Thomas Farr, assuring that the controversial conservative lawyer will not get a seat on the federal bench.

Scott became the deciding vote in the confirmation process of a man who’s been accused of championing racially discriminatory efforts to disenfranchise voters after Sen. Jeff Flake, the retiring Arizona Republican, pledged not to confirm Farr.

The South Carolina lawmaker based his opposition to the nominee on evidence that Farr helped orchestrate the mailing of postcards to 100,000 black voters during Sen. Jesse Helms’ 1990 campaign that wrongly suggested the recipients were ineligible to vote and warned they could be arrested and prosecuted for fraud if they tried to.

“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 a statement provided to The State.

Scott cited a Department of Justice memo written under President George H. W. Bush that was leaked this week and that found Farr was the “primary coordinator” of “ballot security” activities, including the mailing of postcards challenging voters’ legitimacy, during Helms’ 1984 campaign. Farr has said that he was unaware of the postcard effort in 1990.

Read more:
Black civil rights leaders say Trump judicial nominee is ‘a product of the modern white supremacist machine’

The seat on the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina has gone unfilled since 2005 after Democrats first rejected Farr’s nomination by former President George W. Bush in 2006 and Republicans did not provide hearings to President Barack Obama’s two nominees, both black women.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats have pointed to Farr’s “sordid history” of defending and implementing voter suppression tactics.

Over the last decade, Farr and his law firm colleagues have defended voting restrictions and voter ID laws that courts have struck down as deliberately discriminatory – in one case an appeals court said a North Carolina law Farr defended targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.”

Schumer slammed Farr this week as the “chief cook and bottle washer for the state that probably did more to prevent people, particularly African-Americans from voting, than any other state.”

The Congressional Black Caucus have voiced strong opposition to Farr since he was first nominated by the president last year, and civil rights groups have accused the lawyer of being “a product of the modern white supremacist machine.”

“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 Congressional Black Caucus wrote of Farr in a September 2017 letter opposing his nomination.

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