Republican Sen. Tim Scott is doubling down on his opposition to Trump judicial nominee Thomas Farr over concerns about the North Carolina lawyer’s track record on race relations.
Scott (R-S.C.), the GOP’s sole African-American senator, sat down for meeting with Farr on Capitol Hill early Wednesday and said his trepidation wasn’t alleviated, McClatchy reported. The Charleston native met with Farr as a courtesy to fellow GOP Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), one of the judge’s supporters.
Scott drew the ire of the Republican party in November when his deciding vote effectively sunk Farr’s confirmation to a federal judgeship, a move that was followed by a letter signed by 31 conservative leaders, activists and elected officials rebuking the Black congressman for his “no” vote.
In the three-page memo, leaders urged Scott to reconsider his position on the matter and accused him of being complicit in the partisan attack by “unprincipled left-wing activists.”
“In these difficult days, when allegations of racism are carelessly, and all too often deliberately, thrown about without foundation, the result is not racial healing, but greater racial polarization,” the letter read. “Joining with those who taunt every political opponent a ‘racist’ as a partisan political tactic to destroy their reputations is not helpful to the cause of reconciliation.”
Scott had time to fire back at his critics.
“For some reason the authors of this letter choose to ignore … facts, and instead implicate that I have been co-opted by the left and am incapable of my own decision making,” the senator said in a statement to McClatchy.
He added: “Why they have chosen to expend so much energy on this particular nomination I do not know, but what I do know is they have not spent anywhere near as much time on true racial reconciliation efforts, decrying comments by those like (U.S. Rep.) Steve King or working to move our party together towards a stronger, more unified future.”
Earlier this month, Scott penned an op-ed for The Washington Post and took the GOP to task for their silence on King, who made comments embracing white nationalism/white supremacy in a recent New York Times interview. In it, Scott chided fellow Republicans for being complicit and argued they’re often dubbed racists because of it.
“When people with opinions similar to King’s open their mouths, they damage not only the Republican Party and the conservative brand but also our nation as a whole,” he opined.
In regard to Farr’s failed confirmation, Scott said he was unable to ignore the judge’s history of supporting measures that purposely disenfranchise African-American voters, and so he voted against him. 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.”
Scott also pointed to a 1990s Justice Department investigation into Jesse Helms’s (R-N.C.) Senate campaign for mailing postcards to over 120,000 North Carolinians, most of them Black, claiming they were ineligible to vote. Farr worked on that campaign.
The Justice Department later determined the mailers were used to intimidate African-American voters.
In their letter, conservatives alleged that Scott had never met with Farr, nor researched his political background. The South Carolina Republican disputed this, however, telling McClatchy, “I have met with him multiple times over the past 18 months, both in person and via phone.”
With a new Congress now in session, President Donald Trump can decide to re-nominate Farr, though it’s unclear whether he will do so.
New Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told the news site he’s open to moving Farr’s nomination through his committee, but said he would first have to speak with Scott, Tillis and U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, (R-N.C.) about it.