Opinion

Opinion

Editorial: Farr's nomination makes the wrong statement

Posted March 16, 2018 5:00 a.m. EDT
Updated March 16, 2018 8:37 a.m. EDT

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CBC Editorial: Friday, March 16, 2018; Editorial # 8279
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company


It is historic. It is not a good thing.

For 4,459 days – 12 years, six months and one week and longer than any other EVER – there has been a vacancy on the U.S. District Court bench for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

No other federal judicial vacancy comes even close. It is at the top of the federal court system’s list of judicial emergencies. It has hurt the administration of justice in eastern North Carolina: increasing the burden on the three other full-time judges; requiring retired judges to work on an emergency basis; and prolonging the resolution of civil cases.

From 2009 through 2016 two highly qualified African-American women -- Jennifer May-Parker and Patricia Timmons-Goodson – were nominated to fill the judgeship. But they were NEVER even considered – no committee hearings, no committee votes and no debate by the U.S. Senate -- to fill the vacancy in the 44-county district where 27 percent of the population is black. It was about petty partisan politics that have nothing to do with the nominees or the courts.

Sen. Richard Burr insulted the people of the eastern part of the state by ignoring the two nominees. Now, President Donald Trump’s added to the insult with his nomination of Thomas Farr.

Why?

Farr, as a counselor and adviser for the late U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms’ political operations and most recently to the state’s Republican Party, assisted in both developing and later defending, strategies, tactics and laws that were designed to discriminate against and diminish the impact of minority voters. The facts speak for themselves.

Farr is backed by the state’s two Republican senators. The American Bar Association says Farr is well qualified for the position. Former state Supreme Court Justice Bob Or and former state Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer attest to his qualifications and says he’s a fine person, family man and soccer coach. We agree.

But those qualities aren’t the only ones critical when making a lifetime judicial appointment. The question is what statement is made by this nomination?

This nomination supports Republican efforts to alter election laws, confuse voters and use racial gerrymandering to reduce black votes. Farr hasn’t simply been an outside advocate for his client. He was on the team. He helped make it happen.

This is a plain, “in your face” put down of African-Americans. It’s more of the same.

The nomination should be withdrawn and other nominees sought. We know of two who’ve already been nominated who are not overtly political that would fit the bill just fine.

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