People For the American Way

PFAW’s African American Ministers In Action Urges Senators to Reject Thomas Farr Nomination

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 28, 2018

Contact: Derrick Crowe at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 512516.5067

Washington, D.C.—People For the American Way’s African American Ministers In Action (AAMIA) program, in coordination with North Carolina NAACP, today released an open letter to senators, urging them to reject the nomination of Thomas Farr to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench in North Carolina. More than 120 African American faith leaders signed the letter, saying that they were “frankly appalled” that someone with Farr’s record of voter suppression, troubling associations, and attacks on workers’ rights could become a federal judge. A cloture vote on Farr’s nomination is expected today and a final vote is expected tomorrow.

The full text of the letter is below and is also available online (.PDF).

Dear Senators:

On behalf of the congregations and communities we serve, this letter is written to express our great concern about and rejection of the nomination of Thomas Farr to be a federal judge in North Carolina. We reject this nomination out of concerns for his past association with Jesse Helms, his attacks on voting rights and workers’ rights, his record on employment discrimination against African Americans and other vulnerable populations, and the absence of fair-mindedness needed for this seat.

We are frankly appalled that someone with his record could become a federal judge in 21st century America. President Trump sent an unmistakable message to us and other people of color by nominating Farr, a message we ask you to reject.

As you know Thomas Farr was a close and longtime ally of one of the most notoriously racist U.S. senators of the past half century: Jesse Helms. Farr was legal counsel to Helms’ reelection campaign in 1984, which a three-judge panel of federal judges cited at the time as an example of how racism continued to be a powerful force in North Carolina politics. Farr again chose to represent the Helms campaign in 1990, when it aired an infamous ad of white hands crumpling up a rejection letter while the announcer said, “You needed that job, and you were the best qualified. But they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota.”

That same campaign also mailed over 100,000 postcards to mainly black voters suggesting that they were ineligible to vote and that voting could lead to criminal prosecution for voter fraud. Although Farr now claims not to have known about this unlawful voter intimidation scheme until after the fact, records from the subsequent investigation by the Justice Department’s Voting Rights Section suggest otherwise. Either way, Helms’ racism was well known, and Farr repeatedly chose to support him.

Farr’s affiliation with Helms is only the tip of a very ugly iceberg. He played important roles in creating and defending North Carolina’s 2013 voter suppression law imposing a restrictive photo ID requirement, and curtailing or eliminating early voting, same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting, and preregistration of 16 and 17 year-olds.

The Fourth Circuit struck the law down as not only having a racially discriminatory impact, but also as actually being intended to make voting harder for African Americans. The judges found that the law’s provisions “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” One reason the law was so effective at its unlawful, immoral, and un-American goal was that Thomas Farr—who was not a member or staff of the legislature—helped the bill drafters sort through DMV data on distribution of drivers licenses by race, confirming that African Americans were less likely than whites to possess such a license. When the law was challenged, Farr defended it in court, just as he has defended racially harmful redistricting.

During a career that has spanned decades, this nominee has “committed himself to two missions: disenfranchising voters of color and attacking worker rights” and subsequently cannot be gifted a lifetime appointment to do further harm to generations of today and those yet to come.

We adamantly oppose this nomination to a lifetime seat on the Eastern District of North Carolina. Thomas Farr does not complement our continued work as a people and country to overcome racial, discriminatory, inequities of the past that are still a part of present day. The integrity of the courts is far too important to allow someone who would be everything but a fair minded constitutionalist to be seated.

Our sacred text teaches us that “Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue.” It is a cornerstone of our faith, just as it is a cornerstone of our Constitution, and both would be offended by making Thomas Farr a federal judge.

We strongly encourage you to reject the nomination of Thomas Farr by voting NO. He doesn’t deserve the seat on the federal bench or your affirming vote.

Best Regards,
The African American Ministers in Action

Reverend Kevin J. Agee
Washington- Virginia District CME Church
Waldorf, MD

Reverend Dr. Time Ahrens, Senior Minister
First Congregational, UCC
Columbus, OH

Reverend Terry Alexander
South Carolina House of Representatives
Monumental Missionary Baptist Church
Florence, SC

Reverend Alphonse Allen, Jr.
Allen Temple AME Church
Cincinnati, OH

Pastor Luther S. Allen III
First Lynnhaven Baptist Church
Virginia Beach, VA

Pastor Glenn Allen
Canton New Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church
Canton, OH

Dr. James Allen
Virginia Beach Interdenominational Ministers Conference
Virginia Beach, VA

Minister Callie Ayers
New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church
Huntsville, AL

Pastor David E. Bacon
New Vision Missionary Baptist Church
Indianapolis, IN

Reverend Dr. A Battle
Union, NJ

Pastor Darris Benjamin
Big Bethel
Rhine, GA

Reverend Nicholas Betts
Phillips Temple
Toledo, OH

Reverend Dr. Steve Bland, Jr.
Michigan District Baptist Association
Detroit, MI

Reverend Pam Bolte
St. Paul AME Church
Columbus, OH

Reverend Brendolyn Jenkins Boseman
Hudson Memorial Church
Augusta GA

Reverend Dr. Charles Boyer
Salvation and Social Justice
New Jersey

Reverend Dr. Eric Brown, Pastor
Woodland Avenue Christian Church
Columbus, OH

Reverend Herbert Bruce
Pilgrim Baptist
Washington, DC

Pastor Kimberly Bulgin Grace Community Seventh-day Adventist Church
Cleveland, OH

Reverend Thomas Cardwell
Israel Baptist
Washington, DC

Reverend Yvonne B. Carter
Executive Minister Cleveland Baptist Association
Cleveland, OH

Pastor Roy Carter
New Life Church
Racine, WI

Pastor Cindy E. Causey
Christian Methodist Episcopal
Conyers, GA

Elder Andrew Clark, Pastor
Trinity Outreach Ministries COGIC
Cleveland, OH

Dr. Veronica Coleman
New Jerusalem Ministries
Virginia Beach, VA

Reverend Levi Combs III
First Refuge Progressive Baptist Church
Camden, NJ

Dr. Michael Couch
New Beginning Church
Philadelphia, PA

Dr. William T. Cox, President Allegheny West Conf of Seventh-day Adventist
Columbus, OH

Reverend Sheila Crawford
KCM Church
Perry, GA

Presiding Elder-AME Church Reverend Dr. Larry E. Dixon
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Atlantic City, NJ

Attorney Jackson M. Doggette Jr.
Seventh-day Adventist
Martinsburg, WV

Pastor Moses Edwards Sr.
Seventh-day Adventist
Douglasville, GA

Apostle Sharon Edwards
Kingdom Faith Global Ministries
Thomasville, GA

Darlene D. Etheridge
New Hope Baptist Church
Virginia Beach, VA

Ms. Sarah Etheridge
New Hope Baptist Church
Chesapeake, VA

Pastor Chelton Flanagan,
Holy Trinity Baptist Church
Cleveland, OH

Mrs. Donna Fields
Capitol Hill SDA Church
District of Columbia

Reverend Willie Gable
Progressive Baptist Church
New Orleans, LA

Pastor Jimmy Gates
Zion Hill Baptist Church
Cleveland, OH

Reverend Bruce Gibson
Norwalk Community
Norwalk, OH
Presiding Elder Bruce B. Gibson
Phillips Chapel AME Church
Youngstown, OH

Reverend John D. Givens
Shiloh A.M.E. Zion Church
Englewood, NJ

Shmura Gleen
Roanoke, VA

Pastor Ben Gohlstin
Heritage Baptist Church
Cleveland, OH

Presiding Elder Michele Goodloe
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Canton, MS

Reverend Reginald L. Gundy
Florida State Director AAMIA
Jacksonville, FL

Pastor Geoffrey V. Guns
Second Calvary Baptist Church
Norfolk, VA

Presiding Elder Earl Harris
Lee Memorial AMC Church
Cleveland, OH

Reverend Dr. Frances M. Harris
Progressive Christian Women
Port Saint, Lucie
Dr. Joshua Harris, Pastor
St. Timothy Missionary Baptist Church
Cleveland, OH

Pastor Larry Harris,
Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church
Cleveland, OH

Elder Lee Harris
Mt. Olive Primitive Baptist Church
Jacksonville, FL

Pastor Napoleon Harris,
Second Metropolitan Baptist Church

Reverend William Harris
Believers Christian Fellowship
Dayton, OH

Ms. Virginia Hale
St Gerard Catholic Church
Roanoke, VA

Reverend Johnny Hickman
Coles Ministry
Savannah, GA

Dr. Carla P. Hill, DMin
St. James CME Church
East Dublin, GA

Dr. Earl Hudson, Reverend
Harris Memorial
Dayton, OH

Pastor Claval Hunter
Seventh Day Adventist
St. Louis, ML

Dr. Carolyn Hurst,
Southeast Seventh Day Adventist
Cleveland, OH

Pastor Jerome Hurst
Southeast Seventh Day Adventist
Cleveland, OH

Pastor Dr. Robert Kennedy
Emmanuel Worship Center
Alexandria, VA

Laity Ruby Kilpatrick
St Paul AME
Zanesville, OH

Pastor Albert Lewis
Fountain of Grace Church
Cleveland, OH

Barbara Lewis
Rehoboth Baptist Church
Virginia Beach, VA

Reverend Leslie Watson- Malachi
Pilgrim Baptist Church
Waldorf, MD

Pastor Levon C. Manzie
St Joseph Baptist Church, Whistler
Mobile, AL

Reverend Ronald Maxwell
Affinity Baptist Church
Cleveland, OH

Bishop Julius H. McAllister, Sr.
African Methodist Episcopal Church

Reverend Timothy McDonald
First Iconium Baptist Church
Atlanta, GA

Pastor Issac C. McCullough
Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church
Jacksonville, FL

Pastor KK Middleton
Sweet Canaan Missionary Baptist Church of Tuskegee
Montgomery, AL

Reverend Dr. Kenneth Mills
Bible Way Ministries/Truth Church
Fort Pierce, FL

Bishop Tony Minor
Community of Faith Assembly
Cleveland, OH

Dr. Otis Moss, Jr, Pastor Emeritus
Olivet Institutional Baptist Church
Cleveland, OH

Rabbi Nosanchuk, Senior Rabbi
Anche Chesed Fairmount Temple
Beachwood, OH

Reverend Marilyn Oliver
Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church
Bronx, NY

Reverend Wanda Outlaw
NE Imani Fellowship
Washington, DC

Pastor Aaron Phillips
Sure House Baptist Church
Cleveland, OH

Reverend Dr. Geraldine Pemberton
The New Hope Baptist Church
Philadelphia, PA

Ms. Joppa Person
Hilltop Community Worship Center
Columbus, OH

Reverend Vanessa L. Perry
St. Paul AME Church
Kenilworth, NJ

Cynthia Poole
Associate Superintendent
Allegheny East Conference Corporation
Pottstown, PA

Pastor R.A. Prince,
Fellowship Baptist Church

Minister Sally Quinn
Lincoln Park Council of Ministers
Fort Pierce, FL

Pastor Lisa Smith Reid
Seventh Day Adventist
Washington, DC

Reverend Wesley I. Reid
Lee Memorial AME Church
Cleveland, OH

Reverend Chester Ricks
Phillips Memorial CME Church
Cincinnati, OH

Elder Jason Ridley
Allegheny West Conference of SDA
Columbus, OH

Reverend Paul Salder
Mt. Zion Congregational United Church of Christ
Cleveland, OH

Reverend Dr. Kenneth L. Samuel
Victory For the Word Church
Stone Mountain, GA

Reverend Carston A. Shanklin
Parkwood CME Church
Cleveland, OH

Reverend Mary Sirmons
Greater St. James Missionary Baptist
Fort Pierce, FL

Pastor Bryant Smith
Shiloh Seventh-Day Adventist Church
Cincinnati, OH

Reverend Christine B. Smith, Senior Pastor
Covenant Baptist Church
Euclid, OH

Pastor Mark Smith
Sanctuary Baptist Church
Cleveland, OH

Reverend Dr. Susan Smith
Columbus, OH

Ms. Von Smith
New Hope Baptist
Virginia Beach, VA

Reverend Dale Snyder
St. James AME Church
Erie, PA

Revered Ronald L. Sparks
Bethel AME Church
Freehold, NJ

Reverend Dr. T. Anthony Spearman
Greensboro, NC

Dr. Rebecca Stitt, Pastor
St. Peters AME Zion Church
Cleveland, OH

Minister Lisa J Stockdale
Faith Fellowship Outreach Ministries
Toms River, NJ

Kelly Strickland
Executive Administrative Assistant
Rehoboth SDA Church
Reading, PA

Bishop Mitchell Taylor
Center of Hope International
Long Island City, NY

Reverend Gerald Lamont Thomas
Raleigh, NC

Presiding Elder Jane E. Thomas
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Perry, Georgia

Reverend Kenneth Thomas
Lane Metropolitan
Cleveland, OH

Ms. Sandra Thomas
Spring Hill CME
Gordon, GA

Reverend Taylor T. Thompson
St. Paul AME Church
Columbus, OH

Bishop Bernard Waters
Book of Acts Ministry II
New Orleans, LA

Pastor Ester Watson
Shiloh PB Church
Quincy, FL

Bishop Eugene Ward,
Greater Love Baptist Church
Cleveland, OH

Pastor Wendell Webster
New Fountain Chapel AME
Jacksonville, Florida

Rabbi Stephen Weiss, Senior Rabbi
B’ nai Jeshurun
Pepper Pike, OH

Reverend Dr. Merchuria Chase Williams
Atlanta, GA

Jacqueline G. Williams
Living Word Christian Center
Brooklyn Park, MN

Reverend Lavisha D. Williams
St. James CME Church
Columbus, GA

Pastor Melvin E. Wilson
St. Matthew AME Church
Orange, NJ

Reverend Sheree L. Winn
Philips Chapel AME Church
Akron, OH

Loretta Winters
President of the NAACP- Gloucester County New Jersey
Williamstown, NJ

Reverend Vernon Williams
Fountain Baptist Church
Summit, NJ

Mildred Woodard
Community Fellowship Baptist Church
Flint, MI

Elder Marvin Wyatt
Men of the Master

Reverend Patrick Young
First Baptist Church
East Elmhurst, NY