GOP senator’s opposition likely sinks Trump nominee

WASHINGTON (AP) — A second Republican senator has said he will vote against President Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as a district judge in North Carolina, likely dooming the prospects of Thomas Farr filling the nation’s longest court vacancy.

Civil rights groups such as the NAACP have heavily criticized Farr for his work defending state laws found to have discriminated against African-Americans. Farr is nominated to serve as a district court judge in North Carolina.

Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina announced Thursday he would not vote for Farr, joining Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and 49 Democratic lawmakers in opposing the nominee.

Farr once served as a lawyer for the re-election campaign of Republican Sen. Jesse Helms in 1990. The Justice Department alleged about 120,000 postcards sent mostly to black voters before that election was intended to intimidate them from voting.

The postcards targeting black voters said they could be prosecuted and imprisoned for up to five years if they tried to vote in a precinct in which they had lived for fewer than 30 days.

Farr told the Senate Judiciary Committee he was not consulted about the postcards and did not have any role in drafting or sending them. He said that after he had been asked to review the card, “I was appalled to read the incorrect language printed on the card and to then discover it had been sent to African Americans.”

But a 1991 Justice Department memo, first reported by The Washington Post, said Farr had met with key campaign officials and had advised them “that a postcard mailing like the mailing conducted in 1984 would not be particularly useful.”

Scott cited the memo as to why he would vote against Farr.

“This week, a Department of Justice memo written under President George H.W. Bush came to light that shed new light on Mr. Farr’s activities,” Scott said. “This, in turn, creates more concerns.”

Scott has supported an overwhelming number of Trump’s judicial nominees, but in July, the nomination of Ryan Bounds to serve on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, was withdrawn after Scott said he “had unanswered questions that led to me being unable to support him.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had repeatedly criticized Republicans in recent days for moving forward with the Farr vote. He said Scott “has done a courageous thing.”

Earlier Thursday, senators had agreed to postpone the vote on Farr until next week. That decision came less than 24 hours after Republicans needed Vice President Mike Pence to cast a tie-breaking vote Wednesday to move Farr’s nomination forward for a final vote.

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