Photo: Wikimedia Commons

After a whole lot of drama Wednesday, Tim Scott -- the only black Republican member of the US Senate -- announced yesterday he's decided to vote against confirming Thomas Farr as a federal judge, effectively killing the nomination. Scott said he ultimately decided to oppose the nomination because of Farr's work on "ballot security" for Jesse Helms's 1984 and 1990 Senate campaigns, which involved sending postcards warning black voters they'd better not vote illegally OR ELSE. The Washington Post earlier this week published a 1991 Justice Department memo discussing Farr's involvement in the two Helms campaigns, which Scott cited as the key factor in his decision. Farr insists he was horrified by the inaccurate threats sent to black voters, and a lawyer for Jesse Helms would never lie.

"I am ready and willing to support strong candidates for our judicial vacancies that do not have lingering concerns about issues that could affect their decision-making process as a federal judge," Scott said in his statement. "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."

Lest anyone think he was at all disloyal to the overall Republican agenda of rushing through as many rightwing federal judges as possible, as chosen by the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation so Donald Trump can pretend he picked them with his own mighty brain, Scott's statement added, "I am proud that Senate Republicans have confirmed judges at an historical rate over the past two years."

Scott had very publicly stayed silent on whether he would support Farr's nomination, but gave us a good scare Wednesday when he voted to move the nomination forward to a final vote, which would have taken place today. With all 49 Democrats opposed to Farr, and Republican Jeff Flake refusing to approve any judicial nominees unless the Mueller investigation is protected, Scott's decision sinks the nomination with 51 votes against. Flake said Thursday that even without his boycott on judicial votes, he would still have opposed Farr.

McClatchy reports Scott discussed the 1991 memo with its author, then shared his concerns about Farr's possible participation in the 1990 voter intimidation campaign in a conference call with Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and Marco Rubio. Whether they ultimately would have voted against Farr is moot, as is the question of whether Lindsey Graham would have followed through on a Wednesday threat to not support Republican nominees unless the Senate got a full intelligence briefing on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudis.

This is excellent news! The nation is once again freed from having to wait on Lindsey Graham having a backbone (same for Murkowski -- there's no question Collins and Rubio are jellyfish). And for a second time now, Tim Scott has saved the other "moderates" from having to take a stand on a blatantly awful judicial nominee -- the other was Ryan Bounds, whose nomination was withdrawn in July because of racist crap he'd written in college.

Oddly, Scott's reasoning for opposing Farr mentioned only the 1990 Helms campaign, but made no mention of Farr's involvement in defending North Carolina's racist gerrymandering scheme in 2015, or his authorship and defense of the state's 2013 voter suppression law, which a federal court struck down because its restrictions on voting "target African Americans with almost surgical precision."

Despite Scott's vote to kill the Farr nomination, now that the Republicans will hold a 53-vote margin when the new Congress begins in January, there's every possibility Trump could renominate Farr, just to be an asshole. Most presidents would just drop a dead nominee, but this is Donald Trump we're talking about.

[McClatchy / WaPo / WaPo]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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