A lawyer with a history of working to promote anti-worker policies was among 17 nominees who advanced quickly this week toward near-certain appointments to lifetime terms as federal judges.
Thomas Farr’s nearly 40-year legal career began at the National Right to Work Committee, the organization dedicated to preventing workers from organizing and negotiating contracts with their employers.
Farr also participated in a challenge to a law in California that permitted public employees to bargain collectively, and he defended a private company that was charged with preventing union representatives inside a facility to investigate working conditions there. In 1997, he authored a Supreme Court brief siding with efforts to overturn North Carolina’s workers’ compensation law that allowed workers to seek compensation for jobsite exposure to asbestos.
A report by the judicial advocacy group Alliance for Justice says that that Farr chose to “build his career undermining workers’ rights.” His nomination is being officially opposed by the AFL-CIO.
Other groups have pointed to Farr’s past defense of racial discrimination in redistricting and his alleged participation in a 1990 voter suppression scheme in North Carolina – a charge he has denied despite evidence linking him to the effort.
“Nominees like Mr. Farr are a reminder of the real-world consequences of the votes we cast,” said IBEW President Lonnie R. Stephenson. “Working people have to hold our elected leaders in Congress and the White House accountable when they put forward and confirm nominees like this. Mr. Farr’s judicial decisions will have repercussions for decades on issues like worker safety, compensation, ability to organize and more.”
Farr received the White House nomination last June to serve as a federal district judge in North Carolina’s Eastern District. Once confirmed, federal judges serve until retirement or death.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted in a rapid-fire session to approve Farr and the 16 other nominees, most of whom were approved along political party lines. The committee’s votes came as most of Capitol Hill’s attention has been focused on the looming threat of a midnight Friday shutdown of the federal government.
The full Senate is expected to vote to confirm the Judiciary Committee’s recommendations in the coming weeks.