On Wednesday the Senate narrowly voted to advance the nomination of Thomas Farr to be longtime federal judge, despite the controversy surrounding the candidate who has been scrutinized for his attempts throughout his career to weaken Black voters’ rights.
The Senate voted 50-50 on the procedural step, prompting Vice President Mike Pence to step in and break the tie, the Huffington Post reports.
All the Democrats in the chamber were joined by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to vote against Farr. Flake is in the middle of a standoff himself, voting against all of President Donald Trump’s nominees in an attempt to push a floor bill to protect special counsels like Robert Mueller.
Nonetheless, with Pence swaying the vote, Farr’s final confirmation vote is expected to come later this week.
Meanwhile, civil rights groups, and the Congressional Black Caucus have clapped back, after trying to put an end to Farr’s nomination for almost a year.
“It is unconscionable that the Senate would even consider someone with Thomas Farr’s record,” Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said on Tuesday. “In 2018, this should simply be unacceptable.”
As the HuffPost
notes, it was Farr who wrote up North Carolina’s voter ID law in 2013, which was later tossed out by a federal appeals court after the court ruled that the law specifically targeted Black people “with almost surgical precision.”
Farr also attempted to defend the state’s gerrymandering, that was also marred by racial discrimination in 2015, but lost that case.
Democrats have been looking for support from Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), known for her more moderate politics, and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) who is the only Black legislator sitting in the chamber representing Republicans.
However Scott voted to advance Farr, although he noted that his final decision on the confirmation was not yet made. Scott said that he had more questions about Farr’s work.