Sen. Tim Scott wants fellow Republicans to get smarter about judicial nominees — specifically, to stop nominating judges with questionable records on race.
The South Carolina Republican earlier this month was instrumental in blocking confirmation of a second judge in four months over concerns about how they’ve dealt with race issues in the past.
But fellow Republicans showed no immediate signs they would do anything, anytime soon, to take some of the pressure off Scott, the Senate’s only black Republican.
He is up against members of his party who don’t think any of their nominees are problematic. That includes fellow South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is poised next month to become chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which evaluates judges and recommends them for or against confirmation.
“I respect (Scott) very much. There’s nobody I respect more than Tim,” said Graham, before dismissing Scott’s concerns that Thomas Farr, a nominee for a judgeship in the Eastern District of North Carolina, might have been behind a voter suppression strategy in 1990 that involved sending purposefully misleading information to African-Americans.
“I don’t think he had a fraught record on race. I think the mail-out was disgusting in 1990, and (Farr) had nothing to do with it,” Graham insisted.
The conservative base that fuels much of the GOP’s political energy is equally dismissive. The day after Scott announced he would provide the decisive vote to kill the Farr nomination, the grassroots advocacy group FreedomWorks blasted out an email with the phone number for Scott’s office.
“Don’t let this strong conservative nominee crash and burn!” read the call to action from FreedomWorks president Adam Brandon. “Urge (Scott) to stand with President Trump and CONFIRM Thomas Farr.”
Meanwhile, Republican leaders have opted to pretend the debate never occurred, keeping Farr’s candidacy in limbo rather than formally withdrawing his nomination.
Fellow black Republicans, though, are concerned.
Read more: Tim Scott wants his party to get smarter on race. His colleagues are making it tough.