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South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott Says He’ll Vote No On Farr, Likely Ending Judicial Confirmation

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Updated: 7:15 p.m.

Federal judicial nominee Thomas Farr likely won’t be confirmed after all. South Carolina U.S. Senator Tim Scott, who would have been the deciding vote, said he will oppose Farr’s nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Scott is expected to join Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake as the only two Republicans to oppose Farr, President Trump’s nominee for the seat that has been vacant since 2006.

In a statement explaining his decision, Scott said he takes his role in confirming judicial nominees “very seriously,” saying it’s his job to “ensure the judicial branch remains honest, fair and impartial.”

“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.

Scott referenced a 1991 Department of Justice memo that was leaked this week. The memo described Farr’s involvement in the 1984 and 1990 Senate campaigns of Jesse Helms, a Republican from North Carolina.

In the memo, the Helms’ campaign is accused of using voter intimidation tactics in the 1990 Senate race against former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt. The DOJ document, obtained by the Washington Post, said the campaign sent more than 120,000 postcards to primarily black voters to persuade them not to vote.

Farr was the head lawyer for Helms at the time. Farr denied prior knowledge of and involvement with the postcards, according to the Post.

But it was the 1991 memo that Scott said swayed his decision not to confirm Farr.

“This week, a Department of Justice memo written under President George H.W. Bush was released that shed new light on Mr. Farr’s activities. This, in turn, created more concerns,” Scott said. “Weighing these important factors, this afternoon I concluded that I could not support Mr. Farr’s nomination.”

Farr also recently defended North Carolina’s 2013 voter ID law that was struck down by a federal appeals court, which said the law was enacted with “with racially discriminatory intent” and targeted black voters.

Several civil rights groups, including the state NAACP, vehemently opposed the nomination.

North Carolina NAACP President T. Anthony Spearman said Farr “is indeed a person who has racist ideation.”

“I believe he will be a total detriment to the Eastern District where many of the people who are there are African-Americans,” Spearman told WFAE. “So, I don’t think he will be a good, fair and impartial person to have a lifetime seat in that district.”

A busload of 30 people traveled this week to Capitol Hill with the NAACP to convince lawmakers to vote no on Farr’s nomination.