People For the American Way

PFAW Statement on Cloture Petitions on Farr and Kobes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 15, 2018

Contact: Derrick Crowe at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 512.516.5067

Washington, D.C.—Today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture on the nominations of District Court nominee Thomas Farr and Circuit Court nominee Jonathan Kobes. In response, People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker issued the following statement.

“If Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley were looking to illustrate their reckless and irresponsible approach to rubber stamping Trump’s dangerous judicial nominations, they couldn’t do much better than Thomas Farr and Jonathan Kobes. Both these nominees are grossly unqualified for lifetime seats on the federal bench–just a few years ago they would have been laughed out of the Senate–but as examples of how McConnell and Grassley have debased the Senate in pursuit of their ultra-partisan agenda, they’re perfect.

“Thomas Farr has been the go-to litigator for attacks on the right to vote in North Carolina. He defended the state’s aggressive campaign to disenfranchise voters in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision, its gerrymandered districts, and its efforts to throw up obstacles for eligible voters trying to register. A federal judge reviewing one law Farr defended noted that it targeted African American voters ‘with almost surgical precision.’ He also rushed to defend the state’s so-called bathroom law targeting transgender people. As if that’s not enough, evidence shows that he likely lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee. That didn’t matter to Senator Grassley, though, who rushed him to the Senate floor on a party line vote without allowing hearings.

“If Thomas Farr has a prolific record as a relentlessly partisan litigator, Jonathan Kobes has a very short one. In fact, a majority of the American Bar Association’s standing committee on judicial selection found him to be ‘unqualified’ for a seat on the federal bench given his paltry record. But he has political connections, which is all Senator Grassley needed to whisk him through the committee–again on a party line vote. For Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, cronyism trumps responsibility every time.

“Republicans might have the votes to confirm these two manifestly unfit nominees. What they can’t do is hide their record of good-old-boy politics and contempt for the rights of people of color.”