Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) voted to advance the nomination of Thomas Farr for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina this week despite controversy over his work on a voter ID law. But, Scott effectively sunk Farr's chance on Thursday.
Civil rights advocates insisted that Farr helped to suppress minority votes by overseeing the voter ID law. As such, they sounded off on Scott. The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin even called him a "fraud."
Scott knew this was a consequential judicial nomination, so much so that he disappeared for 45 minutes before the vote.
In maybe one of the last dramatic votes we'll see in the Senate for a couple years, Republican Senator Tim Scott stayed in the cloakroom for at least 45 minutes as the deciding vote on whether to move ahead confirmation of judge Thomas Farr. He just voted yes.— Paul McLeod (@pdmcleod) November 28, 2018
But, a day later, Scott changed his mind, having reflected on important factors and a certain memo former President George H. W. Bush wrote in 1991 regarding the 1984 and 1990 campaigns of Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC). That memo revealed that Farr had a larger role in voter suppression than he initially thought, according to Scott.
“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 a 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.”
Those initially outraged by Scott's procedural vote are now changing their tune.
"A Little Bit of Justice: GOP's Lone Black Senator Does the Right Thing," The Root wrote in a headline Thursday. But, even then, the writer Isaac J. Bailey "still doesn’t get why it took so long or why he seemed to struggle with what should have been a simple decision."
"That means the Scott I think I know—the Scott I’ve heard speak passionately about racial justice and equality—showed up today, and not the Scott who compromised his integrity on race in 2016 when he supported Donald Trump despite Trump’s open bigotry."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also praised his Republican colleague for his "courage."
Senator Tim Scott has done a courageous thing, and he’s done the right thing. Thomas Farr has been involved in the sordid practice of voter suppression for decades and never should have been nominated, let alone confirmed to the bench. Thankfully, he won’t be.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) November 29, 2018
The empty seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina remains the nation's longest running judicial vacancy.