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Thomas Farr Senate vote postponed; Donald Trump’s longest pending judicial nominee

November 29, 2018

The Senate held off voting on President Trump’s longest pending judicial nominee Thursday, pushing the vote to next week.

The chamber’s sole black Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina backed Thomas A. Farr’s nomination to the Eastern District of North Carolina on Wednesday, but signaled he was still undecided about how he would vote on the confirmation after Democrats accused the nominee of past discrimination against African-American voters.

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona was the only Republican to join Democrats in opposition to proceeding with the nominee, but he did so as a protest against the chamber not voting on legislation to protection special counsel Robert Mueller, vowing to vote against all the president’s nominees until the Senate considers the bill.

Mr. Farr can only afford to lose one Republican lawmaker’s vote in the closely divided chamber.

His nomination has been pending for more than 500 days, and the North Carolina judgeship to which he was nominated has been vacant since 2005.

President George W. Bush first nominated Mr. Farr for the post in 2006, but Democrats declined to take action, and his pick expired at the end of the Bush administration.

President Barack Obama then named two different black women for the seat, but they were blocked by GOP objections.

Democrats call that a travesty particularly on a court that’s never had a black judge, despite a population where perhaps three in 10 residents are black.

Democrats also object to Mr. Farr’s past work, first as campaign lawyer for the late Sen. Jesse Helms and then as a lawyer defending the state’s voter ID law. A federal appeals court said that law had targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.”

Mr. Farr also reportedly counseled members in the state assembly about drawing congressional maps that a court has ruled a racial gerrymander.

The nominee, though, enjoys strong support form his home state Sen. Thom Tillis, North Carolina Republican, who hired an outside investigator to evaluate the claims against him.

“He came back and said, ‘I’m completely convinced that the inference you would draw from comments from other people on the other side of the aisle are false. They are not supported by the facts and I believe you have somebody who is well-qualified to be a district judge,’ ” Mr. Tillis said during a hearing earlier this year.

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