South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott (R) hit a nerve with Democrats this week when he voted to advance the nomination of controversial judicial nominee Thomas Farr, who Dems say has a history of supporting measures that purposely disenfranchise African-Americans.
Scott, the GOP’s sole Black member, threw his support behind Farr but told reporters on Wednesday he is still undecided on whether he’ll vote to confirm him. According to CNN, Democrats had hoped Scott would vote against the judicial hopeful. Instead, he voted to invoke a procedural step that would advance Farr’s nomination to a final floor vote.
The Republican senator told CNN his decision “was based on the information I’ve been provided,” but added that he hoped to speak with the author of a 1991 memo obtained by The Washington Post detailing a postcard campaign by ex-Sen. Jesse Helms the Justice Department said was used to intimidate Black voters.
“I want to talk to the person who wrote the DOJ memo, that came out last night in the Post,” Scott said. “I want a chance to talk to the actual drafter of the (memo).”
Farr was hand-picked by President Donald Trump for a lifetime seat as a district court judge in North Carolina and moved one step closer after Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote Wednesday, breaking a 50-50 tie. Senate Democrats, joined by Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona, unanimously voted to block the nomination, citing the 64-year-old Farr’s role in defending racially discriminatory gerrymandering and voter suppression in North Carolina. Flake, who will be replaced in the Senate by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in January, has vowed not to advance any Trump judicial nominees unless Congress acts to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from interference in his probe of the Trump administration.
As reported by HuffPost, “Farr helped write a 2013 North Carolina law that activated a number of voting restrictions, including cutting early voting and requiring voter ID. The GOP-led legislature then hired Farr to defend the law in a federal lawsuit challenging it.”
In a hearing for the case, Farr denied the law was intentionally discriminatory. The Appeals Court for the 4th Circuit determined otherwise and struck down the law in 2016, arguing that lawmakers knew the changes would disproportionately affect Black voters. In fact, the court wrote that the law targeted Black Americans “with almost surgical precision.”
Democrats and voting rights activists wasted no time slamming Scott for propelling Farr’s nomination forward despite his past efforts to weaken Black folks’ voting power.
“I cannot believe he is going to reward someone for disenfranchising voters and lying to the Senate about it,” one Twitter user wrote. “What the hell is wrong with the GOP?”
“Tim Scott has aligned himself with the other Republican deplorables. He has a place in the ‘Coon’ library,” wrote another.
A seemingly appalled Rev. Dr. William Barber wrote,”Tim Scott cast the deciding vote for cloture on the judicial nomination of Thomas Farr, who has promoted racist public policy for decades. This vote vs voting rights for African-Americans is what internalized racism & political delusion look like.”
The Senate is expected to vote on Farr’s confirmation on Thursday.