[Marxism] William Barber II: Trump’s Terrible Choice for Judge
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Wed Dec 27 09:14:35 MST 2017
NY Times Op-Ed, Dec. 27 2017
William Barber II: Trump’s Terrible Choice for Judge
By WILLIAM BARBER II
GOLDSBORO, N.C. — Among President Trump’s worrisome nominees to the
judiciary, perhaps none is as alarming as Thomas Alvin Farr, a protégé
of Jesse Helms, the former North Carolina senator, and a product of the
modern white supremacist machine that Mr. Helms pioneered.
Mr. Farr, nominated to serve on the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of North Carolina, began his career as counsel for Mr.
Helms’s Senate campaigns, where he participated in racist tactics to
intimidate African-American voters. This alone is reason to reject his
nomination, as is his apparent lying on the topic to the Senate
Judiciary Committee. But Mr. Farr’s connections to Mr. Helms’s white
supremacist causes and political network go much deeper.
Having lived in North Carolina since childhood, I know Mr. Helms’s
racist legacy and I hold no doubts that Mr. Farr perpetuates it. An
unabashed segregationist, Mr. Helms was affiliated with the Council of
Conservative Citizens, an outgrowth of the White Citizens’ Councils that
promoted white supremacy. Mr. Helms, who served in the Senate for 30
years, used his honorable seat to support the apartheid regime in South
Africa while opposing desegregation, civil rights legislation and the
creation of the Martin Luther King’s Birthday holiday in this country.
Mr. Helms also belittled Carol Moseley Braun, the only black senator at
the time, by singing “Dixie” to her in the Senate elevator.
Mr. Farr’s former law partner, Thomas Ellis, was Mr. Helms’s top deputy
for decades. He also served as a director of the Nazi-inspired,
pro-eugenics Pioneer Fund and used funding from that organization to
create and bankroll a network of interlocking organizations to support
Mr. Helms and other political candidates who espoused the notion of a
superior white race and opposed civil rights.
Together, Mr. Helms, Mr. Ellis, and their protégé Mr. Farr unleashed a
huge propaganda machine that incited hostility toward African-Americans.
Mr. Farr served as a lead counsel to Mr. Helms’s 1990 Senate campaign,
which ran the now-infamous “White Hands” TV television ad, designed to
inflame white voter anxiety over Mr. Helms’s black opponent, Harvey
Gantt. It showed a pair of white hands balling up a rejection letter
while a voice said: “You needed that job and you were the best
qualified. But they had to give it to a minority because of a racial
quota.” The same campaign also sent more than 100,000 intimidating
postcards to North Carolinians, most of whom were blacks eligible to
vote, wrongly suggesting they were ineligible and warning that they
could be prosecuted for fraud if they tried to cast ballots.
A straight line runs from the racial polarization inflamed for decades
by Mr. Helms and his political machine to the re-emergence of violent
white supremacists in the past year in places like Charlottesville, Va.
When Mr. Farr graduated from law school, Mr. Helms and Mr. Ellis brought
him into their fold. Mr. Farr joined the small law firm of Maupin,
Taylor & Ellis, where all of the named partners were openly hostile to
civil rights. Mr. Farr followed those lawyers to other firms and
maintained a close collaboration with Mr. Ellis for at least 34 years.
Mr. Farr disclosed on his Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire that
he spoke “in honor of” Mr. Ellis as recently as 2007. And over decades
of association with Mr. Helms and Mr. Ellis, he never publicly denounced
or even faintly criticized their notorious racism and belief in white
To the contrary, Mr. Farr worked closely with Mr. Ellis to represent Mr.
Helms’s agenda in court. Significantly, he represented several of the
Helms entities that received large donations from the Pioneer Fund,
including the Coalition for Freedom.
Most recently, Mr. Farr has carried on Mr. Helms’s legacy by helping
North Carolina’s Republican-led Legislature create and defend in court
discriminatory voting restrictions and electoral districts, which were
eventually struck down by numerous federal courts that found them to be
motivated by intentional racism. In fact, the United States Court of
Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found that the state’s 2013 voter
suppression law was aimed at blacks with “almost surgical precision.”
African-Americans seeking to have their rights protected under federal
law have much to fear if Mr. Farr takes the bench. This is particularly
the case in the Eastern District of North Carolina, which covers an area
where about half of the state’s African-American residents live and is
often referred to as its Black Belt. The Eastern District has not had a
black judge in its 145-year history. President Barack Obama’s attempts
to desegregate this federal bench were obstructed by Senator Richard
Burr, Republican of North Carolina, who blocked the vote on two highly
qualified female African-American nominees and who now supports Mr.
Farr’s nomination to the Eastern District.
Senators from both sides of the aisle must condemn the experience Mr.
Farr brings with him. Having practiced white supremacy for decades, Mr.
Farr is not likely to withdraw. Every senator who condemned the racism
on display in Charlottesville must vote to prevent it from having power
in the federal judiciary.
William Barber II is a co-chairman of the Poor People’s Campaign and the
author of “The Third Reconstruction.”
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