Attorney Thomas Farr dies over Easter weekend

Prominent North Carolina Republican lawyer Thomas Farr passed away Monday, according to extended family members. Close colleague and attorney Phil Strach told Carolina Journal that Farr was a “titan” of the legal profession.

“He had a professionalism, a belovedness, that even people we are regularly against in court acknowledge,” said Strach. “Professionalism was one of his defining characteristics and incredibly important to him.”

A major player in the litigation over North Carolina’s district maps and fierce defender of North Carolina’s constitutional amendment for voter ID, Farr was twice nominated to be a federal judge by former President Donald Trump, and twice by former President George W. Bush.

“You don’t get nominated to that level without an astounding legal record,” said Strach. “You have to have an outstanding legal resume to even be considered, and he was considered not once but twice.”

Bush nominated Farr in 2006 and 2007 to be a US District Court judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Trump again tapped Farr for the post in both 2017 and 2018. Each time congressional Democrats and left-leaning activist groups fought his appointments, saying his work for Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina, in the 1990s plus his work defending voter ID and Republican-drawn congressional maps in North Carolina indicated that he was “hostile to voting rights.” The aggressive campaign to stop his nomination drew national attention, but those who knew him well say it was loaded with false personal attacks.

“Unfortunately, he had to go through an overtly political process, given his outstanding legal resume, and people were able to spread falsehoods about him,” said Strach. “Tom, to his credit, rose above it and kept practicing. He pushed through it and kept being the consummate professional that he always was.”

Thomas Farr testifies in 2017 confirmation hearings. Image courtesy of C-SPAN.

Following the media frenzy over opposing Farr‘s nomination, a group of more than 30 constitutional scholars inked a letter to Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, urging him to vote to confirm Farr.

“Tom’s record of accomplishment is without blemish. You have, by your actions, inferred that something is amiss but you won’t say what that is. And you have damaged the reputation of someone who does not deserve to have his reputation tarnished with veiled assertions of ‘racism,’” they wrote.

Early in his career, Farr worked for Helms during his 1990 re-election campaign against former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt. Farr also served as an attorney with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and counsel to the US Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee. He was also a law clerk to Chief Judge Frank Bullock of the US District Court’s Middle District.

“Tom Farr devoted much of his life to North Carolina politics and public policy,” said Donald Bryson, CEO of the John Locke Foundation. “He was revered as an expert on elections law, and he will be missed for his services to the state.”

Most recently Farr had been in private practice with the Nelson Mullins firm in Raleigh, where he worked on constitutional law, workplace safety, and employment litigation.

“There is a profound sense of loss today among those of us who had the privilege of knowing and working alongside Tom,” said House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, on Tuesday afternoon. “His influence on public policy and advocacy in North Carolina and beyond is undeniable. Tom’s contributions to the legal field, his tireless advocacy for justice, and his commitment to the U.S. Constitution and the founding principles of our country will continue to inspire those who knew him for many years to come.”

The post Attorney Thomas Farr dies over Easter weekend first appeared on Carolina Journal.


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