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Farr Clears First Hurdle In Quest For Judgeship


The U.S. Senate narrowly voted to advance the nomination of Raleigh attorney Thomas Farr to a final floor vote Wednesday afternoon. Farr is President Trump’s nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

With one Republican, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, siding with Democrats, a preliminary vote on Farr's nomination was tied 50-50 before Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote in Farr's favor.

North Carolina NAACP leaders and other civil rights advocates conducted a last-ditch lobbying effort at the Senate today in Washington to block Farr’s nomination. A busload of more than 30 people traveled with state NAACP leaders to Capitol Hill to try and convince lawmakers, up until just before the vote was taken, to oppose Farr’s nomination.

North Carolina NAACP President T. Anthony Spearman says he opposed Farr’s appointment because Farr helped lead Jesse Helm’s 1990 U.S. Senate race against Harvey Gantt. Spearman says that race was filled with racist overtones. He also pointed to Farr’s work as the attorney for state GOP leaders on legislation that the courts ruled was designed to suppress voting rights of minorities.

“He is indeed a person who has racist ideation,” Spearman said. “I believe he will be a total detriment to the Eastern District where many of the people who are there are African-Americans, so I don’t think he will be a good, fair and impartial person to have a lifetime seat in that district.”

In a statement, Gantt, the former mayor of Charlotte, also criticized Farr for the role he played in the Helms campaign against him. He says that race was filled with “blatant voter intimidation,” and violations of the Civil Rights Act.

Before today’s vote, Spearman said he wanted to arrange a meeting between Gantt and South Carolina U.S. Senator Tim Scott, a key swing vote and the only black Republican in the Senate, to sway him to oppose Farr’s nomination. Scott voted with the Republican majority, as did North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, a strong advocate for Farr.

Debate on the Farr nomination will be limited and a final vote is expected to happen this week. If the vote goes in Farr's favor, Spearman said, "We'll have to live with it, I suppose. We tried to sound the alarm as best we could, while we could."

Gwendolyn is an award-winning journalist who has covered a broad range of stories on the local and national levels. Her experience includes producing on-air reports for National Public Radio and she worked full-time as a producer for NPR’s All Things Considered news program for five years. She worked for several years as an on-air contract reporter for CNN in Atlanta and worked in print as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, The Washington Post and covered Congress and various federal agencies for the Daily Environment Report and Real Estate Finance Today. Glenn has won awards for her reports from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association, SNA and the first-place radio award from the National Association of Black Journalists.