Under the Dome

Trump cites ‘judicial emergencies’ in renewing nomination of Farr for NC court seat

Thomas Farr is seated during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to be a judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, on Sept. 20, 2017 in Washington.
Thomas Farr is seated during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to be a judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, on Sept. 20, 2017 in Washington. AP

Thomas Farr, President Donald Trump’s pick for a long-vacant judge’s seat in Eastern North Carolina, will continue to face a nomination fight.

Trump renominated Farr on Friday, along with 20 other judicial nominees.

Farr, a 63-year-old Raleigh-based attorney who has represented North Carolina Republican lawmakers in cases involving redistricting and voter ID and worked for the late U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, was nominated to the U.S. District Court seat last year. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination on a party-line vote, but never got a full Senate confirmation vote.

Senate Democrats refused to give Farr’s nomination the unanimous consent needed to carry it over to 2018, requiring a renewal. Farr’s nomination now must go back to the committee.

The seat in the Eastern District of North Carolina has been open for 11 years because of political conflicts. It covers 44 counties from Raleigh to the coast.

Trump’s announcement identified North Carolina among states “suffering from judicial emergencies.”

Farr’s nomination has faced stiff opposition from several liberal groups and individuals, including The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, former North Carolina NAACP chairman William Barber and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. They have questioned Farr’s role in voter suppression tactics used by the Helms’ campaign in the 1980s.

“One individual who is being renominated should, at the very least, require another hearing if senators on the committee are taking their vetting seriously: Thomas Farr,” Vanita Gupta, the president of The Leadership Conference, said in a statement Friday. “After his hearing, information came to light that strongly suggests that he misled the committee about his involvement in the Jesse Helms for Senate campaign’s intimidation of black voters. Senators must demand more information from both the nominee and the Justice Department to determine Farr’s veracity under oath and his involvement in this nefarious conduct.”

Gupta is the former head of U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division under former President Barack Obama.

Republicans, including North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, have backed Farr’s nomination and dismissed the claims about his role in Helms’ campaign tactics. Tillis is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“The attempt by the far-left to smear his well-earned reputation through innuendo without a shred of actual evidence is shameful, and it’s disappointing that some of Senator Tillis’ Democratic colleagues are jumping on the bandwagon to pander to their base and advance their own political ambitions,” Tillis spokesman Daniel Keylin said in a statement last month.

Brian Murphy: 202-383-6089, @MurphinDC

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