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(Thomas Farr | Photo courtesy of Alex Brandon / AP)

By Vanessa D. Miller

On Wednesday, June 6, 2018, a group of civil rights leaders and activists gathered at the United States Capitol to denounce the judicial nomination of Thomas Farr to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Civil rights activists reject Farr’s nomination because Farr has led active legislative efforts to suppress political participation of African Americans in North Carolina.

In 2013, Farr drafted and defended the North Carolina voter restriction law that was ultimately struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit because it targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.” 

Though the Eastern District of North Carolina is predominately African American, the federal court has never had a judge who reflects the racial makeup of that part of the state.

Before his departure from office, President Obama nominated Jennifer May-Parker and Patricia Timmons-Goodson, two highly qualified African American women, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. However, neither May-Parker nor Timmons-Goodson were confirmed by the state’s Republican U.S. Senators.

Currently, 75 percent of confirmed judges under President Trump are male and almost 90 percent are white.

In attendance at the rally were Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, both of whom are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Representative G.K. Butterfield, who serves the people of North Carolina’s First District; Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advance of Colored People (NAACP); Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton; Representative Sheila Jackson Lee; Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II; and representatives of the organization Demand Justice.

During her powerful speech, Kristen Clarke said, “[This nomination] does not reflect the growing diversity we see today. Farr’s nomination will undermine the rule of law. He has promoted anti-civil rights, anti-women’s rights, anti-workers’ rights, and anti-LGBT rights. We need to save our courts.”

Senator Harris pointed to the words under the United States Supreme Court: Equal Justice Under Law.

“With Farr,” Senator Harris stated, “we will not get that.”

And while his confirmation would severely threaten the progress made in voting and employment rights for marginalized communities in North Carolina, he is a threat to civil rights everywhere, not just in North Carolina.


Vanessa D. Miller is a contributing writer for The Black Wall Street Times. Originally from Miami, Florida, Vanessa is a first-born generation Cuban-American. She is also a fourth-year J.D./Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Education Policy Studies at The Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include critical race theory, feminist legal theory, civil rights, and social science research in law and policy. She was a graduate intern for the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s Office, a legal intern at the Penn State Office of General Counsel, and a legal intern for the Penn State Law Civil Rights Appellate Clinic. She teaches introductory philosophy courses at Penn State and has published articles on race and the law. She received her undergraduate degree in philosophy from the University of Florida and her master’s degree in philosophy and education from Teachers College, Columbia University. This summer, Vanessa is interning in Washington, D.C. with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational.

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