Senator Tim Scott has indicated he will vote "No" on controversial judicial nominee Thomas Farr along with Senator Jeff Flake and all the Democrats, effectively ending Farr's ascension to the bench.
Farr is one of the most controversial nominees to come before the Senate for confirmation, largely because of his very long history of voter suppression and aggressive Voter ID laws, as Joy Reid discussed last year with Ari Berman.
Scott was on the fence with regard to the Farr nomination until new information surfaced directly linking Farr to Jesse Helms' "ballot security" efforts.
McClatchy DC reports
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.
Quite frankly, Farr's nomination should have been in the tank or never made at all after his "laser-focused" effort to craft a voter ID law to suppress the African-American vote in North Carolina. That should have been sufficient for Senator Scott, but this memo seems to have been the straw that broke the camel's back.