Civil Rights Leaders Urge Senate Judiciary Committee to Oppose District Court Nominee Thomas Farr

Today, national and local civil rights leaders held a telephone press briefing to call on the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject Thomas Farr’s nomination to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The committee is expected to vote on Farr’s nomination on Thursday, October 19.

A recording of today’s call is available here.

Participants in the call spoke out on the need for Congress to reject Farr’s nomination:

“That Farr would now be made a federal judge is offensive. It is offensive to African Americans in the Eastern District and all people who depend on independent and impartial courts,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. “His legal career has been dedicated to opposing the rights of workers and denying African Americans full participation in our democracy. His record is repugnant and provides ample grounds to oppose his confirmation.” 

“We oppose the nomination of Thomas Farr, and the Senate Judiciary Committee should vote no,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “He has devoted much of his 38-year legal career to restricting voting rights, defending employment discrimination, and advancing an extreme ideology.  This record, together with his personal statements and testimony, demonstrate that he is not committed to upholding existing civil rights law, disqualifying him for this lifetime appointment.”

“It would be difficult to identify an attorney in North Carolina whose career is more closely associated with voter suppression and efforts to undermine the voting rights of African Americans and other racial minorities than Thomas Farr. We have carefully evaluated Thomas Farr’s record and do not find that he brings a commitment to protecting and safeguarding civil rights.  Farr’s decades-long record makes clear his hostility to minority voting rights including efforts to defend unlawful racial gerrymandering and unconstitutional attempts by lawmakers to restrict minority voting rights. Our country deserves nominees who will be truly committed to interpreting the Constitution and federal civil rights laws in a way that recognizes that discrimination is both ongoing and a threat to democracy, and judges who bring a commitment to ensuring equal justice under law for all. Thomas Farr does not meet this standard and his nomination should be rejected by the Senate,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Irving Joyner, Professor of Law, North Carolina Central University School of Law; Legal Counsel and Chairperson of the Legal Redress Committee of the North Carolina State Branches of the NAACP, said: “Thomas Farr’s ideological and political roots come from the decades he spent as a protégé of and legal counsel for the late Senator Jesse Helms, who helped invent modern-day white supremacy.  Farr launched his legal career by serving as counsel for Helms’s notoriously, outright racist election campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s, and has since consistently dedicated his legal practice to defending some of the most poignant racist, anti-worker, and anti-civil-rights efforts that have come out of the state of North Carolina.  Farr has no place on the federal bench, and certainly not in the Eastern District of North Carolina, which is located in the heart of North Carolina’s ‘Black Belt.’”

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Co-Chair, Poor People’s Campaign; President, Repairers of the Breach; Pastor, Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); leader of the Moral Mondays/Forward Together Movement; former President of the North Carolina NAACP, said: “The legacy of Tom Farr is infamous. He has been a leading force to put white nationalism policy into law. If you’re against what you see in Charlottesville, you must also oppose the accession of lawyers that support white nationalist policies to a lifetime seat on the federal judiciary.”

Additionally, The Leadership Conference sent a letter to the Senate urging opposition to Farr. That letter is available here. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc, also sent a letter, which is available here.


Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. 

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.”  The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.