Open Letter From North Carolina

I am writing from North Carolina to ask for your help defending our right to vote by opposing Trump nominee Thomas Farr’s appointment to be a Federal Judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina.

North Carolina’s own senators have thus far been unwilling to do the right thing, so I am asking – begging, really – people in other states to contact their Senators and tell them to oppose Farr’s nomination.

North Carolina is ground zero in the fight for democracy.  We are struggling just to maintain our right to vote in North Carolina– ESPECIALLY in Eastern North Carolina.

If you are securely snuggled into the safely of a “blue” state, you may think that this issue in North Carolina does not affect you. You would be wrong, though.

Voting rights in North Carolina affects the whole world.

NC has 15 electoral votes and 13 Congressional seats.  NC is growing, and we will likely have more congressional seats after the next census.  If we can have fair elections in North Carolina, it could change the fate of America in 2020.

North Carolina is a “purple” state. Before the extremists took over North Carolina, it was one of the states that helped America elect its first Black President – NC went for Obama in 2008.

Backed by out-of-state “dark money,” the current extremist super-majority in the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) has systematically attacked fair elections to the point that the state legislature no longer represents the will of the people of North Carolina.  In 2016, the Electoral Integrity Project reported that North Carolina could no longer be classified as a democracy.

The NCGA passed SL 2013-38, a law that The Nation called the “country’s worst anti-voting law.” The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the law was unconstitutional and found that it was enacted with “discriminatory intent” to target minority voters with “almost surgical precision”. The NCGOP leaders have told the press that they intend to pass a NEW version of this law.

In 2011, the NCGA created the most gerrymandered electoral districts in the country, both for NCGA and NC’s US Congress seats. Federal Courts held, and the Supreme Court affirmed, that North Carolina’s legislative and congressional electoral district maps were unconstitutional because they violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by impermissible racial gerrymandering. The all-white NC GOP keeps appealing the rulings and NC has continued to be governed by unconstitutionally elected representatives for years.

North Carolina

There are 8 counties in North Carolina that are over 50% African American – and they are ALL in Eastern North Carolina.  Many of the counties in the Western part of the state, in contrast, are about 99% White.

Thomas Farr’s voter suppression activities are well documented. Farr has helped the NCGOP-controlled state legislature sort the data used to design the discriminatory voting law, SL 2013-38.  Farr also advised the NCGOP on the creation of North Carolina’s 2011 electoral district maps –  which were later overturned by the United States Supreme Court for racial gerrymandering.  

Farr was also a protégé and counsel for the segregationist Jesse Helms, and he participated in racist tactics to intimidate African-American voters.

This judicial seat has been vacant since 2005.  Since then, two qualified African American women judges were nominated for this position, and were blocked by Sen. Burr.

So why is this Judicial seat suddenly an “emergency”?

In 2016, within 90 days of the election 6,700 voters, mostly Black, were wrongfully “purged” from voter registration rolls in violation of National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). One of the voters targeted was Grace Bell Hardison, a 100-year-old African-American woman in Beauford County (in Eastern NC).

These voter “purges” were overturned by U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs, who told government attorneys that she was “horrified” by the “insane” process used to remove these voters from the rolls without their knowledge. “It almost looks like a cattle call, the way people are being purged,” Biggs said. “This sounds like something that was put together in 1901,” when state-sanctioned Jim Crow practices disenfranchised Black voters.

This is beginning to look like yet another element in the systematic suppression of African American voters. This administration, or those behind it, may be hoping that with Farr on the bench in Eastern North Carolina, they will be able to get away with “voter purges” of Black voters in 2018 – especially now that the 1982 consent decree prohibiting the RNC from voter purges has been reversed.

I grew up in Eastern North Carolina.  The people there are just as deserving of the right to vote and “equal protection under law” as any other American.

Please encourage your Senators to oppose Thomas Farr’s nomination.  We need free and fair elections in North Carolina and across America. What happens here, paves the way for the rest of the nation, so I’m asking you to please help save North Carolina and the voting rights of every American.

Thank you,
Aylett Colston
Raleigh, NC

Links to references:

North Carolina no longer a democracy: http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article122593759.html

Trump’s Nominee Thomas Farr has Sorrid NC History: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article191917234.html

Thomas Farr is “Moral Poison”: http://time.com/5099446/donald-trump-judge-nominee-thomas-farr/

Farr helped drafters of the “Monster” voter-suppression bill sort through Department of Motor Vehicles data on distribution of driver’s licenses by race (blacks were more likely than whites not to have one, it showed):  http://blogforarizona.net/the-gop-campaign-to-dismantle-the-voting-rights-act-of-1965/

Farr’s role in the bill to roll back Voting Rights: https://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/07/29/magazine/voting-rights-act-dream-undone.html?referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F 

Farr advises NCGOP on creation of racially gerrymandered electoral districts : http://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/story/10814198/ 

Farr’s Nomination to Face Judiciary Committee; Consent Decree Against GOP Ballot Security Efforts Lifted: https://www.indyweek.com/news/archives/2018/01/09/farrs-nomination-to-face-judiciary-committee-including-senators-booker-harris-consent-decree-against-gop-ballot-security-efforts-lifted

Thomas Farr and voter “caging” : https://www.salon.com/2018/01/15/how-the-supreme-court-could-empower-the-gop-election-hijacking-crew_partner/#.WlzmmXufMvY.twitter

2016 Voter “Purge” in violation of Federal National Voter Registration Act:

https://www.scribd.com/document/329763629/DOJ-Statement-of-Interest-NC-NAACP-v-SBOE-NVRA

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/north-carolina-naacp-voter-suppression_us_5817634fe4b064e1b4b385df

http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/naacpnc/mailings/1050/attachments/original/Time-Stamped_NC_NAACP_Initial_NVRA_Complaint_-10-31-2016.pdf?1477925949

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/11/03/federal_judge_slams_north_carolina_voter_purge.html

NC Republicans try to disenfranchise 100 year old woman:

https://www.thenation.com/article/north-carolina-republicans-tried-to-disenfranchise-a-100-year-old-african-american-woman/