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Van Jones: Democracy is on the line

CNN's Van Jones reacts to President Donald Trump's controversial nominee for a US district court judge in North Carolina, Thomas Farr.

Posted: Dec 1, 2018 12:13 AM
Updated: Dec 1, 2018 12:38 AM

Republican Sen. Tim Scott announced Thursday he would oppose President Donald Trump's nominee to be a US district judge in North Carolina, effectively ending the nomination that had been plagued with accusations that Thomas Farr supported measures that disenfranchised African-American voters.

"This week, a Department of Justice memo written under President George H.W. Bush was released that shed new light on Mr. Farr's activities. This, in turn, created more concerns. Weighing these important factors, this afternoon I concluded that I could not support Mr. Farr's nomination," Scott said in a statement.

Scott, who is the Senate's sole black Republican, told reporters Wednesday that he wanted to speak to the author of a 1991 memo obtained by the Washington Post, which outlines a controversial postcard campaign distributed by the 1990 campaign of Sen. Jesse Helms that the Justice Department said were used to intimidate black voters from going to the polls.

Scott's decision to oppose Farr prevented Farr from being confirmed by the Senate, where Republicans hold a 51-to-49 seat majority. Also opposing Farr was Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who has sworn off advancing Trump judicial nominees until the chamber votes on a bill to protect special counsels such as Robert Mueller. All 49 Democrats opposed the nomination.

Democrats had cited Farr's role in providing legal counsel to the North Carolina Republican Party on the state's congressional map, which was struck down this year as a partisan gerrymander.

Other prominent Democrats such as Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum had called on the Senate to reject Farr.

"Thomas Farr's record of hostility and disregard for fundamental civil rights disqualifies him for a lifetime appointment that will allow him to codify his discriminatory ideology into law," Abrams and Gillum, who are both African-American, said in a statement Tuesday.

Scott's opposition to specific Trump nominees has led to the pulling of at least one other nomination.

In July, the White House withdrew the nomination of circuit court hopeful Ryan Bounds moments before the nominee was to face his Senate confirmation vote following Scott's decision to raise concerns to Senate leaders. Scott's concerns revolved around the content of Bounds' writings -- which critics labeled racially insensitive -- while at Stanford and the fact that Bounds did not disclose the writings to a bipartisan committee of attorneys in Oregon that had recommended him for Ninth Circuit job.

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