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Civil Rights Leaders Raise Alarm About District Court Nominee Thomas Farr Ahead Of Senate Judiciary Committee Vote

For Immediate Release October 18, 2017

WASHINGTON – Today, national and local civil rights leaders held a telephone press briefing to call on the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject Thomas Farr’s nomination to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The committee is expected to vote on Farr’s nomination on Thursday, October 19.

A recording of today’s call is available here.

Participants in the call spoke out on the need for Congress to reject Farr’s nomination:

“It would be difficult to identify an attorney in North Carolina whose career is more closely associated with voter suppression and efforts to undermine the voting rights of African Americans and other racial minorities than Thomas Farr,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “We have carefully evaluated Thomas Farr’s record and do not find that he brings a commitment to protecting and safeguarding civil rights.  Farr’s decades-long record makes clear his hostility to minority voting rights including efforts to defend unlawful racial gerrymandering and unconstitutional attempts by lawmakers to restrict minority voting rights.  Our country deserves nominees who will be truly committed to interpreting the Constitution and federal civil rights laws in a way that recognizes that discrimination is both ongoing and a threat to democracy, and judges who bring a commitment to ensuring equal justice under law for all.  Thomas Farr does not meet this standard and his nomination should be rejected by the Senate.”

“That Farr would now be made a federal judge is offensive. It is offensive to African Americans in the Eastern District and all people who depend on independent and impartial courts,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. “His legal career has been dedicated to opposing the rights of workers and denying African Americans full participation in our democracy. His record is repugnant and provides ample grounds to oppose his confirmation.”

“We oppose the nomination of Thomas Farr, and the Senate Judiciary Committee should vote no,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “He has devoted much of his 38-year legal career to restricting voting rights, defending employment discrimination, and advancing an extreme ideology.  This record, together with his personal statements and testimony, demonstrate that he is not committed to upholding existing civil rights law, disqualifying him for this lifetime appointment.”

Irving Joyner, Professor of Law, North Carolina Central University School of Law; Legal Counsel and Chairperson of the Legal Redress Committee of the North Carolina State Branches of the NAACP, said: “Thomas Farr’s ideological and political roots come from the decades he spent as a protégé of and legal counsel for the late Senator Jesse Helms, who helped invent modern-day white supremacy.  Farr launched his legal career by serving as counsel for Helms’s notoriously, outright racist election campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s, and has since consistently dedicated his legal practice to defending some of the most poignant racist, anti-worker, and anti-civil-rights efforts that have come out of the state of North Carolina.  Farr has no place on the federal bench, and certainly not in the Eastern District of North Carolina, which is located in the heart of North Carolina’s ‘Black Belt.’”

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Co-Chair, Poor People’s Campaign; President, Repairers of the Breach; Pastor, Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); leader of the Moral Mondays/Forward Together Movement; former President of the North Carolina NAACP, said: “The legacy of Tom Farr is infamous. He has been a leading force to put white nationalism policy into law. If you’re against what you see in Charlottesville, you must also oppose the accession of lawyers that support white nationalist policies to a lifetime seat on the federal judiciary.”

About The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers' Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers' Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of "Moving America Toward Justice." The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers' Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

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