Pressure Mounts for the Senate Judiciary Committee to Demand Answers from Thomas Farr | North Carolina | Indy Week

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Pressure Mounts for the Senate Judiciary Committee to Demand Answers from Thomas Farr

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A coalition of national left-leaning groups, as well as The Washington Post's editorial board, pressed Raleigh lawyer and federal judgeship nominee Thomas Farr for answers to questions raised by the INDY's reporting about his earlier testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The organizations and the newspaper urged Farr to offer additional testimony to the committee about his involvement in a controversial 1990 postcard campaign designed to help the late Senator Jesse Helms's racially charged reelection race against former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt.

President Trump nominated Farr, sixty-three, to a lifetime post in the Eastern District of North Carolina in July. As part of an assessment by the judiciary committee, Farr answered written questions from Senator Dianne Feinstein of California by saying he had no prior knowledge of the Helms postcard campaign that a federal court said was designed to intimidate black voters.

Farr did not return a phone call to his office Monday and has not responded to previous requests for comment.

In recent INDY interviews, Gerald Hebert, a Department of Justice lawyer who worked on the case in 1990, said Farr had been involved in planning the postcard mailing weeks before it took place. That news got the attention of the coalition of groups, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Bar Association, the National Education Association, the National Women's Law Center, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

"Farr must appear before the Committee to explain the discrepancies between this credible account and his own responses," the groups said in an open letter to Senator Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican who chairs the judiciary committee, and Feinstein, the ranking Democrat. "Senators must determine whether Farr intentionally misled the Committee, and whether he participated in an unconscionable and unlawful scheme to disenfranchise African-American voters."

Three of the groups had come out against Farr before Monday. In addition to the controversial postcard mailing, civil rights advocates are opposing him because of his work in legislative redistricting, employer-side advocacy in labor cases, and efforts defending North Carolina's voter ID law.

On Sunday, the Post argued that the "committee should hold another hearing with Mr. Farr to determine his involvement in the voter-suppression effort and whether he was truthful with the Senate."

Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the state Republican Party, calls opposition to Farr "a lefty witch hunt which will fail." Woodhouse says Farr has already answered senators' questions about the postcard campaign and should not have to give a repeat performance. Woodhouse predicted Farr will be confirmed by the full Senate.

"He's gone through the normal process and answered questions in the hearing and did so very well," Woodhouse says. "Trying to put around his neck what his client may or may not have done forty years ago is pretty disgusting even for the left. The left doesn't like Tom Farr because he is effective and brilliant."

The judiciary committee forwarded Farr's nomination to the full Senate in October. No date has been set for a vote, but it could occur at any time.

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