Senator Scott to oppose nomination of Thomas Farr to federal court

South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott said on Thursday that he would oppose the nomination of Thomas Farr to become a U.S. District Court judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina.  With Senator Jeff Flake indicating he will vote against all judicial nominees until a bill protecting special counsel Robert Mueller is voted on, Scott's opposition effectively sinks the nomination.

Scott cited a recently released Justice Department memo detailing questionable voter suppression activities by Farr during the 1984 and 1990 campaigns of Senator Jesse Helms.

The State:

In a brief statement explaining his decision, Scott cited a 1991 Department of Justice memo obtained by The Washington Post this week, just days before the Senate was set to vote on Farr's confirmation. It detailed Farr's involvement in "ballot security" activities by the 1984 and 1990 campaigns of then-Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina.

Farr worked for the campaign in 1984 and represented the 1990 campaign as a lawyer.

Helms' 1990 re-election campaign against former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt, who is black, included charges of voter intimidation for postcards mailed to primarily black voters warning of possible arrest at the polls.  The Department of Justice investigated the voter intimidation claims and settled with the Helms campaign in a consent decree.

"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 his statement.  "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.  Weighing these important factors, this afternoon I concluded that I could not support Mr. Farr's nomination."

The 1991 memo said that "Farr was the primary coordinator of the 1984 'ballot security' program conducted by the NCGOP and 1984 Helms for Senate Committee.  He coordinated several 'ballot security' activities in 1984, including a postcard mailing to voters in predominantly black precincts which was designed to serve as a basis to challenge voters on election day."

Farr told attendees at a 1990 meeting that the need for "ballot security" measures, such as postcards, "was not as compelling as in 1984, since, unlike in 1984, the state had a Republican governor."

In 1990, the Helms campaign sent postcards to black voters who may have changed addresses warning of "voter eligibility and the penalties for election fraud."  Farr said he did not know about the decision to send the postcards, and the memo does not state that he did.

It seems a thin reed to hang Farr on, but in today's charged atmosphere of "voter suppression," it's apparently enough.

Farr would have been a good judge, but the issue of "voter suppression" won't go away.  The fact is, both sides look to dampen enthusiasm and keep people home on election day.  This has been part of politics since George Washington ran for president.  Democrats have targeted evangelicals with specific messages to deter them from voting.  Republicans target minorities because they identify largely as Democratic.  But the issue of "voter suppression" has been hung around the necks of Republicans because of their support for voter ID laws, which make perfect sense in keeping the vote honest but are easily demagogued as a way to keep the black vote down.  Simply saying we don't need to have voter ID laws because voter fraud isn't a problem doesn't cut it and isn't believable anyway.  Still, it's too easy an issue to claim racism as a motive.

Sending a postcard to black people telling them they may go to jail if they vote is, indeed, voter suppression.  But there are numerous characters and hangers on to campaigns who carry out efforts independent of candidates that might be termed "suppressing" the vote.  Robocalls, postcards, mailers – both sides do it, and the Democrats' holier than thou attitude is just plain hypocritical.

South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott said on Thursday that he would oppose the nomination of Thomas Farr to become a U.S. District Court judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina.  With Senator Jeff Flake indicating he will vote against all judicial nominees until a bill protecting special counsel Robert Mueller is voted on, Scott's opposition effectively sinks the nomination.

Scott cited a recently released Justice Department memo detailing questionable voter suppression activities by Farr during the 1984 and 1990 campaigns of Senator Jesse Helms.

The State:

In a brief statement explaining his decision, Scott cited a 1991 Department of Justice memo obtained by The Washington Post this week, just days before the Senate was set to vote on Farr's confirmation. It detailed Farr's involvement in "ballot security" activities by the 1984 and 1990 campaigns of then-Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina.

Farr worked for the campaign in 1984 and represented the 1990 campaign as a lawyer.

Helms' 1990 re-election campaign against former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt, who is black, included charges of voter intimidation for postcards mailed to primarily black voters warning of possible arrest at the polls.  The Department of Justice investigated the voter intimidation claims and settled with the Helms campaign in a consent decree.

"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 his statement.  "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.  Weighing these important factors, this afternoon I concluded that I could not support Mr. Farr's nomination."

The 1991 memo said that "Farr was the primary coordinator of the 1984 'ballot security' program conducted by the NCGOP and 1984 Helms for Senate Committee.  He coordinated several 'ballot security' activities in 1984, including a postcard mailing to voters in predominantly black precincts which was designed to serve as a basis to challenge voters on election day."

Farr told attendees at a 1990 meeting that the need for "ballot security" measures, such as postcards, "was not as compelling as in 1984, since, unlike in 1984, the state had a Republican governor."

In 1990, the Helms campaign sent postcards to black voters who may have changed addresses warning of "voter eligibility and the penalties for election fraud."  Farr said he did not know about the decision to send the postcards, and the memo does not state that he did.

It seems a thin reed to hang Farr on, but in today's charged atmosphere of "voter suppression," it's apparently enough.

Farr would have been a good judge, but the issue of "voter suppression" won't go away.  The fact is, both sides look to dampen enthusiasm and keep people home on election day.  This has been part of politics since George Washington ran for president.  Democrats have targeted evangelicals with specific messages to deter them from voting.  Republicans target minorities because they identify largely as Democratic.  But the issue of "voter suppression" has been hung around the necks of Republicans because of their support for voter ID laws, which make perfect sense in keeping the vote honest but are easily demagogued as a way to keep the black vote down.  Simply saying we don't need to have voter ID laws because voter fraud isn't a problem doesn't cut it and isn't believable anyway.  Still, it's too easy an issue to claim racism as a motive.

Sending a postcard to black people telling them they may go to jail if they vote is, indeed, voter suppression.  But there are numerous characters and hangers on to campaigns who carry out efforts independent of candidates that might be termed "suppressing" the vote.  Robocalls, postcards, mailers – both sides do it, and the Democrats' holier than thou attitude is just plain hypocritical.