We learned during the fight over Justice Brett Kavanaugh that Democrats will stop at nothing to block nominees who defend the Constitution’s limits on government. Lies, smears, screams, and even crimes are the tools of their trade.
Now, the same tactics are being used to smear another nominee to the federal bench – Tom Farr from North Carolina.
Farr was appointed by President Trump for a vacancy on the United States District Court that sits in Raleigh – the site of multiple fights over election process laws and Congressional redistricting. The seat has been vacant since 2006, the longest vacancy on the federal bench nationwide.
Farr, like Kavanaugh before him, is experiencing ritual defamation by his opponents.
Farr committed the unpardonable sin to the left: He represented the state of North Carolina in defending North Carolina’s voter ID and election integrity laws. Power is too important for Farr’s foes to allow a nominee with mainstream views to be confirmed to a court so central to their litigation agenda in that swing state.
Contrary to the vast majority of Americans, Farr’s foes consider voter ID the second coming of Jim Crow. They have employed their tiresome tactic of smearing someone as a racist who is nothing of the sort.
To smear someone as a racist who is not is a wretched thing. But that didn’t stop Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) or North Carolina political activist William Barber from launching a last-second bid to scuttle Farr’s nomination.
As a follow-up, Farr’s opponents leaked an internal confidential Department of Justice memorandum regarding the 1990 campaign of North Carolina Senator Jessie Helms. Ironically, this leaked memorandum exonerates Farr from the smears his foes intended.
I am very familiar with this memorandum from my time as an attorney at the Justice Department Voting Section. The 1990 memo was used to justify the now legally dubious case against the North Carolina Republican Party under the voter intimidation provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The Department alleged that a targeted card mailed to black voters was voter intimidation.
I have litigated every Department of Justice case under this provision of the Voting Rights Act since 2005, and the leaked memo is quite familiar to me.
The Helms defendants quickly settled the case in 1990. Since then, intervening case law and decisions by the DOJ, such as the dismissal of portions of the New Black Panther voter intimidation case, call into question the viability of the theory the DOJ advanced in 1990.
The leaked confidential memo was used as a weapon inside DOJ by ideologically motivated Department lawyers, some of whom now work for left-wing advocacy groups, to advance an overly expansive approach to federal power that could intrude on some forms of political speech.
Yet the leaked memo amazingly demonstrates that Farr advised the Helms campaign against the activities that gave rise to the DOJ action. The memo reveals that Farr specifically advised against the card mailings to voters and other activities that drew DOJ’s scrutiny.
In other words, Farr advised against doing the activity that was the basis of the 1990 Justice Department complaint.
That Farr’s foes would resort to leaking an internal confidential Justice Department memorandum that exonerates Farr demonstrates how they are both lawless and incompetent.
But clownish incompetence didn’t stop Kavanaugh’s accusers from trying everything to destroy Kavanaugh’s nomination and his future. The same gangsters have turned their sights on Tom Farr.
President Trump and the Justice Department have pursued the sources of leaks of confidential information. Determining who is responsible for leaking this internal DOJ memo shouldn’t be very hard considering how vocal the advocates of expansive federal power who had access to the memo have been since they left the Department.
The Senate should rebuke these dishonest smear tactics and confirm Farr.
Tom Farr was chosen to represent North Carolina in multiple election law cases because Farr is a top-shelf lawyer, just the sort we want on the federal bench.
The American Bar Association, after an extensive peer-review process and investigation, unanimously awarded Farr a “Well Qualified” rating twice. Of course, the ABA has never been accused of a conservative bias.
According to the ABA, Farr’s rating signifies that “the nominee must be at the top of the legal profession in his or her legal community; have outstanding legal ability, breadth of experience, and the highest reputation for integrity; and demonstrate the capacity for sound judicial temperament.”
Some of Farr’s most prominent critics have made an embarrassing career of crying wolf about conservative nominees – including similar fake attacks on Jeff Sessions. Courts have rebuked their racial smear campaigns in the past, and the Senate should do the same and confirm Tom Farr this week.