The Courage of Thomas Farr Allows Republicans to be Where They Are

Longtime friend, colleague, and Republican lawyer Dale Oldham wrote this inspiring tribute to North Carolina election law attorney Thomas Farr who passed on April 1, following a series of heart problems.

Like Horatius at the bridge, Tom Farr spent his adult life fighting until his last breath in the defense of the Republic. I first met Tom Farr nearly 35 years ago when a team of unlikely Republican attorneys set out to slay the most enormous, obnoxious, and persistent gerrymander that has ever existed in history. It had first been put in place by the Democratic Party in the wake of their enormous electoral success during the Great Depression and it was intended to make their grip on political power in the United States permanent. It was incredibly successful, far exceeding any gerrymander which preceded or succeeded it. As a result of this gerrymander, in 1992 the Democratic Party had controlled the House of Representatives for 40 years and controlled an overwhelming number of the state legislatures. Analysis of the various maps showed that it would take a nationwide vote in excess of 60% to win a majority of the seats in Congress and the state legislatures under such a gerrymandered map. It paradoxically relied upon the gerrymandering of African American voters, but its real target was always to prevent Republican electoral success. A number of us had decided to strike at the heart of that paradox and by ending the gerrymander against African American voters, we could likewise end the gerrymander of ourselves.

Like Horatius at the Pons Sublicius bridge, Tom found himself at the point of attack in North Carolina. By the 1990s, the Democrats were already a minority party in North Carolina but through the use of their gerrymander they were determined to hold onto this power through by any method available to them. Indeed, they were prepared to go to moral and legal depths un-exceeded by any other state, with the possible exception of Texas. In the 1990s, before the infamous map that was litigated in Shaw v. Reno, they used crisscross districts to preserve their power and intentionally divided the compact minority communities that would elect minority representatives without artificial manipulation. In the 2000s they hid a census error, and they would actually bribe Republican legislators, in the infamous Black & Decker affair, in order to continue their control of the legislature in the state. Throughout they used their control of the press to continue a never-ending barrage of slander against Tom. Through this slander they sought to harm his business and successfully prevented him from becoming a federal district court judge despite being nominated four times by two Presidents. While this slander wounded him to his heart, he never allowed himself to be intimidated because Tom had a deep and abiding faith. He would have to rely upon that faith as he continued to do his duty to save his state and the Republic.

From Pope v. Blue in the 1990s to the litigation which is continuing today, Tom stood in the forefront of every case in North Carolina. Without Tom having the courage to stand up to the slings and arrows which assailed him from ALL directions, he, and his colleagues, of whom I’m honored to count myself as one, would not have obtained the victories in the dozens of pieces of litigation which we have fought over the last 35 years. It is those victories which have allowed Republican legislators and Congressman to be able to run successful campaigns and win.

It is imperative that every Republican elected official understand that it is the courage of the Tom Farrs that allows them to be where they are. They should particularly remember this when men like Tom are slandered because it is done to intimidate other honest men from defending the bridge. Let Tom’s faith and courage be a light to us all to stand and do our duty no matter the slings and arrows that shall befall us at the bridge, for without that courage the Republic has no hope. Let us be strong in our own faith knowing that God will always hold close the soul of his good and faithful servant.

Dale Oldham currently serves as Counsel to the National Republican Redistricting Trust. A nationally-recognized expert in his field, he has extensive experience providing counsel to a variety of clients in various capacities.