Commentary, Courts & the Law

THIS is the person Donald Trump has nominated to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the nation’s #2 court

As we reported in this space back in November, Donald Trump’s relentless assault on the federal courts continues in the aftermath of the Brett Kavanaugh debacle. The clear lesson that he and Republican senators learned: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

The latest evidence of this hard reality: Neomi Rao — Trump’s nominee to take Kavanaugh’s spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the nation’s second highest court, who had her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee today.  Yesterday, court watchers at the Alliance for Justice released a detailed report on Rao and it’s not an encouraging picture that they paint.

AFJ:  Rao Should Not Be Confirmed  

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 4, 2019  – Alliance for Justice today released a research report on the record of Neomi Rao, President Donald Trump’s nominee to take the D.C. Circuit court seat formerly held by Brett Kavanaugh.  AFJ President Nan Aron made the following statement:

“Neomi Rao’s record of offensive statements about women, sexual assault survivors, LGBTQ people, people of color and the environment is matched only by her track record of advancing federal government policies that are deeply harmful to these same communities and interests.  It only makes matters worse that she is being named to the nation’s second-highest court and to the seat once held by Brett Kavanaugh, who has faced credible allegations of sexual abuse. Senators should understand that a vote to confirm Neomi Rao is a slap in the face to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

Among other things, the AFJ report finds:

  • Rao’s writings blaming sexual assault on survivors, rather than perpetrators, foreshadow her work as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a government office that is taking a major role in rolling back Title IX protections for survivors of campus sexual assault.
  • Rao has criticized the Violence Against Women Act, calling it a “grandstanding” statute.
  • Rao wrote critically about women’s full participation in society, stating that “in exchange for access into the working world and sexual freedom, women have lost much of the previous caring and affection of men.”
  • At OIRA, Rao halted a data-collection program designed to gather information on the pay disparity between genders, as a step toward remedying it.
  • Rao wrote disparagingly about racial justice, saying that Yale “drops its standards only for a few minorities, some legacies and a football player here or there.” Under Rao, OIRA is working with Department of Housing and Urban Development to roll back protections against race-based housing discrimination.
  • Rao has vocally opposed marriage equality and has written critically about the Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor, which struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.
  • Rao has writings critical of LGBTQ rights, and under her leadership, OIRA is finalizing a rule that would allow health care providers to refuse care to LGBTQ patients on the basis of “conscientious objections.”
  • Rao has written to defend “dwarf-tossing,” a degrading practice in which participants throw little people for sport or entertainment. The organization Little People of America wrote to the Senate opposing Rao’s confirmation on the basis of her views on dwarf-tossing.
  • Rao’s record shows that she is eager to undermine the power of government agencies to create and enforce public protections for consumers, the environment, workers, and health and safety.  She has argued that agencies should have far less power and in favor of a decades-old, discredited legal doctrine (the nondelegation doctrine) that would gut the recognition of agencies’ expertise and authority in their fields.
  • Rao, like many other Trump nominees, believes Presidents are entitled to very expansive and wide-ranging powers.  She believes that Presidents can overrule the other two coequal branches of government. She believes independent agencies should be under a president’s control, and she has also been critical of the independent counsel statute.   Her views suggest that she would not act as an independent check on abuses of power by President Trump.

The full report can be found here: www.afj.org/Rao

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