Raleigh, N.C. — President Donald Trump on Thursday nominated Raleigh attorney Thomas Farr, who has defended various voting maps in North Carolina drawn by the Republican-led General Assembly, to a vacancy on the federal bench.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Farr would fill a seat in the federal Eastern District of North Carolina that has been open for almost 12 years, when Judge Malcolm Howard took senior status, a form of semi-retirement accorded federal judges. President George W. Bush nominated Farr to fill the same vacancy in 2006, but the nomination never went through. The American Bar Association rated him as well-qualified at the time.
"I am pleased once again to support Thomas Farr for District Judge of the Eastern District of North Carolina," Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr said in a statement. "His wealth of experience will serve North Carolina well."
"Thomas Farr is widely respected as one of the best legal minds in North Carolina," Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis said in a statement. "He is impeccably qualified, and I am confident he will be an independent-minded judge committed to fairness and will faithfully apply the law."
An attorney with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart who specializes in employment matters and constitutional law, Farr has been the go-to guy for Republican legislative leaders in recent years to fend off challenges to their actions. Several times, he has argued that voting maps drawn in 2011 were legal. Federal courts have found that both congressional and legislative maps were drawn illegally, packing too many black voters into certain districts to make other districts more amenable to GOP candidates.
Farr also defended changes to state elections laws, including a photo identification requirement for voters, which federal courts also overturned.
He previously was an attorney with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and counsel to the U.S. Senate and Labor Human Resources Committee. He earned a bachelor's degree from Hillsdale College, a law degree from Emory University and an advanced degree in labor law from Georgetown University.