Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer pleaded with Republican senators on Monday to defeat President Trump’s nominee to a North Carolina judgeship, saying Thomas Alvin Farr has shown he doesn’t respect black voters’ rights.
Mr. Schumer said all 49 Democrats will vote against Mr. Farr, as will one Republican, Sen. Jeff Flake.
If they can sway another GOP senator, they could defeat the nomination, dealing a blow to Mr. Trump.
“This is a man who stands for disenfranchisement of voters, particularly minority voters, that is what he stands for. You can try to parse it any way you want, but that is what he has done. That is not America,” Mr. Schumer said on the chamber floor.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, set his confirmation vote up for later this week.
Mr. Farr was nominated to the federal bench in July of 2017, meaning he’s waited longer than any other judicial vacancy. And the seat he’s been nominated for is the longest vacancy of any federal court, dating back to the George W. Bush administration.
Democrats object to Mr. Farr’s past work, first as campaign lawyer for the late Sen. Jesse Helms and then as a lawyer representing North Carolina in major voting-rights cases.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the state’s 2013 voter ID law, which Mr. Farr had defended, saying the state legislature targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.”
And in 2010, Mr. Farr reportedly counseled members in the state assembly about racial gerrymandering.
Going back 28 years, the Helms campaign mailed out more than 100,000 postcards to black voters in 1990, warning them not to show up to the polls. The mailer told them they were ineligible to vote and would be imprisoned if they tried to do so. Mr. Farr represented the Helms campaign when it was sued by the Justice Department; the case was settled in 1992.
Mr. Schumer said Monday in light of the midterm election chaos in Georgia and Florida regarding voting and the counting of ballots, he hopes Republicans would think about the message they would send to voters by confirming Mr. Farr.
“I don’t care what your party is and I don’t care what your political ideology is, how can you have this man in the court?” Mr. Schumer said Monday.
Liberal activists say the seat Mr. Farr has been nominated for should have gone to a black judge.
Mr. Obama nominated two black women to the seat, but they were never confirmed because the Republican home-state senators refused to support them.
But Sen. Thom Tillis, North Carolina Republican, has defended the nominee, saying he hired an outside prosecutor to evaluate the allegations against Mr. Farr.
“He came back and said, ‘I’m completely convinced that the inference you would draw from comments from other people on the other side of the aisle are false. They are not supported by the facts and I believe you have somebody who is well qualified to be a district judge,’” Mr. Tillis said.
Mr. Flake, the one Republican poised to vote against Mr. Farr, has not joined Mr. Schumer’s objections. He even voted for Mr. Farr in the Judiciary Committee.
But Mr. Flake has vowed to oppose all of the president’s judicial nominees until the Senate votes on legislation to protect the ongoing special counsel probe into the 2016 election, Russian meddling and Trump campaign figures’ behavior.
More than 30 judicial nominees are awaiting confirmation votes before the full Senate, while the Judiciary Committee is set to consider 22 additional judicial nominees on Thursday.