WASHINGTON – Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold additional hearings on the nominations of Brett Talley to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama and Thomas Farr to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina:
“There is now credible evidence that judicial nominees Brett Talley and Thomas Farr lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Chairman Grassley must put politics aside and bring back both nominees before the committee so that they can be asked about their truthfulness under oath. Failure to do so would be to abdicate the independent role of the Senate in the confirmation process for lifetime judicial appointments and the critical role that the Senate Judiciary Committee has always played in the consideration of these powerful lifetime appointments.
Talley has been rated unanimously ‘not qualified’ for the federal bench by the American Bar Association. He has never tried a case and has practiced law for less than three years. In response to a clear question requiring him to identify family members who could pose a conflict of interest, he failed to disclose, under oath in a Senate questionnaire, that his wife is the chief of staff to the White House Counsel– whose office oversees judicial nominations. Talley’s failure to provide the committee with this clear conflict of interest is an insult to the role that the Chairman and the committee play in the Senate’s review of lifetime appointments. Talley also failed to disclose thousands of blog postings that are clearly ‘material published only on the Internet’ as required by the Senate questionnaire. One such posting, discovered by a reporter after his confirmation hearing, shows Talley defending the ‘first KKK.’ Talley must be required to return to the committee to explain his failure to answer his Senate questionnaire accurately or the Senate and the American people it represents will wonder what else he is hiding.
Farr served as the lawyer for the Jesse Helms for Senate campaign in 1990 and testified last month that he was completely unaware that the Helms campaign planned to send postcards to 125,000 African-American voters in North Carolina in an unlawful attempt to intimidate them and suppress their vote. But a Justice Department attorney who helped investigate the incident in 1990 and bring a federal Voting Rights Act lawsuit against the Helms campaign has come forward publicly to say that Farr was, in fact, aware that the unlawful postcards would be sent to African-American voters. This new evidence demonstrates that Farr must be questioned about this voter suppression and his previous testimony in a public hearing.
These two nominations are indicative of a larger and highly disturbing pattern we have seen from the Trump administration. These individuals are not properly vetted, hold extreme views, and are not qualified for the positions to which they have been nominated. If the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to be taken seriously by this and future administrations, it must demand that nominees accurately respond to questions that previous judicial nominees have answered. Senators not serving on the prestigious Judiciary Committee rely on its thorough examination of potential lifetime appointments and at least for these two nominees, that examination is now in question. Chairman Grassley must do his duty and bring these two nominees back before the committee and demand the truth.”
Earlier this month, The Leadership Conference sent a letter to the Senate urging opposition to Talley. That letter is available here. Last month, The Leadership Conference sent a letter to the Senate urging opposition to Farr. That letter is available here.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.