Senate panel votes for nominee for ENC spot vacant since 2005

Thomas Farr

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate Judiciary Committee has narrowly voted for the nomination of a North Carolina attorney to fill the nation's longest judicial vacancy.

Thomas Farr's nomination is opposed by black lawmakers and some civil rights groups. The committee voted 11-9 Thursday to recommend the nomination to the full Senate.

If confirmed, he'll serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, a post vacant since 2005.

Farr was hired by North Carolina GOP leaders to defend congressional and legislative boundaries that helped expand Republican majorities. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California says he has a long record of defending discriminatory voting laws.

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina says Farr had letters of recommendation from across the political spectrum.