One of President Donald Trump’s more controversial judicial nominees made it through the Senate on Wednesday, Politico reported, despite concerns over his record on voting rights.
In a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie, the Senate agreed to move forward on the nomination of Thomas Farr, who President Donald Trump nominated to become a district judge in North Carolina.
All 49 Senate Democrats and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) voted against proceeding. Flake has vowed to block all judicial nominees until Republican leadership brings to the floor legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller.
Democrats had pinned their hopes of blocking Farr’s advancement on Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, believing at least one of the two Republicans could be swayed against the nominee; however, both lawmakers cast a vote in Farr’s favor.
Having cleared the procedural vote, Farr could be confirmed as early as this week, Politico reported.
Democrats have criticized Farr for defending a North Carolina voter ID law that an appellate court struck down for targeting African-Americans with “almost surgical precision.” He is also criticized for working as a lawyer for former Sen. Jesse Helms in 1990. At the time, Helms campaign sent postcards to predominantly African-American voters that suggested they were not eligible to vote. In addition to the postcard controversy, Helms, a segregationist, opposed the Civil Rights Act as a senator.
Collins said Tuesday she would support Farr, citing his receipt of the “highest rating” from the American Bar Association and support from Kathy Ruemmler, who served as White House counsel to former President Barack Obama.
Collins said Farr assured her he had no part in the postcard controversy:
“He in fact told me he was disgusted by it,” Collins said. “He clearly played no role in drafting it, approving it or even seeing it before it was sent.”