Butterfield questions Trump judicial appointment

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U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield says a judge President Donald Trump nominated to the federal court bench does not reflect eastern North Carolina’s racial diversity.

Trump formally nominated 11 people for federal district judgeships on Thursday, including Thomas Alan Farr, who will be considered for service on the U.S. District Court for Eastern District North Carolina.

Farr is white, while two nominees for the judgeship made by former President Barack Obama and blocked in the Senate were African-American women.

“The counties in the Eastern District have a substantial African-American population, but the Court does not reflect that diversity,” Butterfield said in a prepared statement. “The Court should include African-American judges and this appointment simply maintains the status quo in a district with a large population of African American citizens.”

Butterfield, a Wilson Democrat representing North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, has previously served as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The Wilson congressman also criticized Farr’s work as a private-practice attorney representing the N.C. General Assembly in court battles over redistricting.

“I’m disappointed that President Trump nominated a lawyer who has been at the forefront of defending the North Carolina Republican legislature as it has repeatedly engaged in political gerrymandering of state legislative and congressional district boundaries and has passed regressive voting laws that had the intended effect of diluting the voting rights of minority groups,” Butterfield said.

Farr is a shareholder in the Raleigh-based law office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart. He specializes in constitutional law and employment matters, White House regional communications director Sofia Boza said in a Thursday news release.

Farr was previously an attorney for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and served as counsel to the U.S. Senate and Labor Human Resources Committee.

He clerked for Judge Frank W. Bullock Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

Farr earned a bachelor’s degree from Hillsdale College, a juris doctorate from Emory University and a master of laws degree in labor law from Georgetown University.

Federal judges are appointed by the president and are subject to Senate confirmation.

“I urge the United States Senate to carefully scrutinize the record of Thomas Farr and determine if he can impartially serve as a judge in cases involving voting and civil rights,” Butterfield said.