A Little Bit of Justice: GOP's Lone Black Senator Does the Right Thing, Opposes Controversial Trump Pick

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) during a working session regarding the Opportunity Zones provided by tax reform in the Oval Office of the White House February 14, 2018.
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) during a working session regarding the Opportunity Zones provided by tax reform in the Oval Office of the White House February 14, 2018.
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

I still don’t get why it took so long or why he seemed to struggle with what should have been a simple decision—if justice, not politics, was the goal—but Tim Scott, a U.S. senator from South Carolina, has announced he will oppose the nomination of Thomas Farr. That means the Scott I think I know—the Scott I’ve heard speak passionately about racial justice and equality—showed up today, and not the Scott who compromised his integrity on race in 2016 when he supported Donald Trump despite Trump’s open bigotry.


Scott said last-minute “new” information from the Department of Justice solidified his opposition against Farr.

From McClatchy:

“I am ready and willing to support strong candidates for our judicial vacancies that do not have lingering concerns about issues that could affect their decision-making process as a federal judge,” Scott said in his statement. “This week, a Department of Justice memo written under President George H.W. Bush was released that shed new light on Mr. Farr’s activities. This, in turn, created more concerns. Weighing these important factors, this afternoon I concluded that I could not support Mr. Farr’s nomination.”

President Donald Trump wanted Farr, a man who had been nominated by President George W. Bush about a decade ago but did not receive a vote, to represent eastern North Carolina on a federal court. Trump did not care about Farr’s dubious role in defending and creating strategies to disenfranchise black voters, including his work with the campaign of former North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, a man who is a legend in the South for his disgusting use of open racism in his campaigns. Or maybe Trump cared about that a great deal and wanted Farr on the court because of that troubling background, to ensure his party can continue trying to erect voting barriers against black people. Thanks to Scott, Farr won’t be able to do from the bench what he did, not only for the Helms campaign but as an attorney who defended one of the most egregious voter suppression laws in the country. At least he won’t be able to do it yet.

It’s possible we’ll see Farr up for a vote again in the Senate next year. That’s when a single vote from Scott won’t be able to stop him. That’s when we’ll find out if any of Scott’s Republican colleagues feel a similar sense of duty and make sure a man who should not be a federal bench doesn’t make it there.

Two years ago, Scott chose his party over racial equality when he was comfortable talking up Trump in the general election. Today, he is doing the reverse. It’s the second time he has stopped a nominee with egregious racial baggage from being named to the federal bench. Scott also gave an impressive speech in the Senate on the issue of racial profiling.

Scott still has to do a lot—a lot—more to make up for his Trump support before I would even consider voting for him when he’s up for re-election again in our native South Carolina. But on days like these, I don’t mind giving him props for striking a small blow against racism.

Bailey is a Harvard University Nieman Fellow and author of the book, "My Brother Moochie: Reclaiming Dignity in the Face of Crime, Poverty and Racism in the American South." He's a husband and father.



I give him credit for walking the razor’s edge. Black Republicans who fail, fail HARD, and he’s doing the least he can to keep from venturing into Uncle Ruckus territory. He knows he can’t step-and-fetch 100% of the time or else he’ll never be able to confidently say, “I got mine.”