Nov 27, 2018

Trump judicial pick in limbo, seen as a threat to voting rights

Thomas Farr at a hearing last year. Screenshot via the Senate Judiciary Committee website.

Senate Republicans are weighing a floor vote this week on one of President Trump’s lifetime judicial nominees, Thomas Farr, whose record of supporting election policies that have been struck down by federal courts as racially discriminatory has sparked concern among Democrats and a coalition of civil rights and progressive groups.

Driving the news: Farr, a Raleigh-based attorney who would serve as a District Judge in North Carolina if confirmed, has previously come under fire for helping craft a voter ID law that a lower court determined was passed to target black voters with "almost surgical precision.” Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided against taking up an appeal by North Carolina Republicans. Farr had also defended the state’s legislative and congressional maps, some of which the Supreme Court ruled as illegal racial gerrymandering.

Details: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that all 49 Democrats are opposed to the nomination. And on Monday, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) doubled down on his pledge to vote against all judicial nominees unless Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allows a floor vote on legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller. Flake had supported Farr earlier this year during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote.

  • This means that Democrats could derail the nomination if another Republican decides to oppose Farr.

Flashback: Over the summer, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) sank Judge Ryan Bounds' nomination to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals amid outrage over his racially insensitive writings in the past.

  • But Rubio's spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas told Axios on Tuesday that the senator will vote in support of Farr.
  • Scott, the lone black Republican in the Senate, declined to say whether he would support the judge, telling CNN’s Manu Raju: “I'm doing my homework.”

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) defended Farr earlier this year, saying that the nominee “has been the subject of a coordinated and viciously dishonest smear campaign from the far-left designed to tank his confirmation.”

  • And Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters on Monday that he’s optimistic the Senate will confirm him.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Netanyahu says July 1 deadline for West Bank annexation won't change

Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday at a Likud Party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, that his July 1 deadline for starting the process of annexation in the West Bank will not change, according to people in attendance.

Why it matters: The White House and the State Department have stressed over the last few weeks that the deadline set by Netanyahu is "not sacred" to the Trump administration — and that any discussion of annexation needs to be in the context of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina if capacity reduced

President Trump on stage during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump threatened in a series of Monday tweets to move this summer's Republican National Convention from Charlotte if North Carolina's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, doesn't allow the event to be held at full capacity.

The state of play: Mandy Cohen, the state's health and human services secretary, said last week that the GOP should "plan for the worst" as mass gatherings will be a "very big challenge" if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase, per NPR.

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.