Now that Justice Brett Kavanaugh has taken his place on the Supreme Court, his old position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. District remains open. President Donald Trump is currently in the process of nominating a replacement for Kavanaugh, and his pick, Neomi Rao, is stirring up controversy.
The White House announced Trump’s nomination of Rao in a press release back in November. But yesterday, January 14th, a report from BuzzFeed News sparked concern over Rao taking the seat. In its investigation, BuzzFeed unearthed some troubling pieces that Rao wrote between 1994 and 1996—when she was a student at Yale and shortly afterward. In an October 1994 column in the Yale Herald, she reportedly acknowledged that men who rape drunk women should face charges, but added that “a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober.”
In a November 1994 column for the paper, which focused on the conflict between conservative gay students and members of an on-campus LGBT organization, Rao wrote, “Trendy political movements have only recently added sexuality to the standard checklist of traits requiring tolerance.”
On other occasions documented by BuzzFeed, Rao called affirmative action “the anointed dragon of liberal excess” and wrote that race was “a hot, money-making issue.” As Newsweek notes, Rao has never been a judge before. The 45-year-old is currently the administrator for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and she is also an associate professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School. She previously worked as a clerk for conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and Mother Jones reports that she recently suspended Obama-era regulations that would have allowed researchers to gather data about the gender wage gap.
Rao’s inflammatory remarks are worth noting because, according to Politico, she would likely be considered for the Supreme Court should Trump need to make another appointment during his presidency. And even if she doesn’t join SCOTUS, being confirmed to the circuit court would make her a judge in the country’s second-highest court.
Rao’s past comments could have very real consequences if she’s confirmed to Kavanaugh’s old position. We’ll be watching this story as it unfolds, and in the meantime, if you oppose her appointment, you should contact your elected officials.