Neomi Rao Heads Into Judicial Confirmation Hearing Battling Progressive Smears

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Amber Athey Podcast Columnist
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Neomi Rao, President Donald Trump’s pick for a seat on the DC Circuit, will likely face a tough confirmation battle from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Rao currently serves as the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) and was a former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas. She is a staunch conservative and was reportedly instrumental in getting George Mason University to rename their law school after the late Justice Antonin Scalia. (RELATED: Trump Taps Indian Daughter Of Immigrants To Succeed Kavanaugh On DC Circuit)

Rao is slated to replace Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, but her conservative background already has her swimming against coordinated attacks from left-wing judicial advocacy groups.

The left-wing Alliance for Justice shopped opposition research on Rao to BuzzFeed News in mid-January. BuzzFeed reported that Rao had written “inflammatory” opinion articles while she was in college over two decades ago.

Some of Rao’s writings focused on sexual assault and date rape, and the Yale University student suggested that women could do their own part to prevent such attacks by drinking alcohol responsibly.

In 1994, Rao wrote that while a drunk man who rapes a woman should be prosecuted, “a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober” and that “implying that a drunk woman has no control of her actions, but that a drunk man does strips women of all moral responsibility.”

The Alliance for Justice called those comments “hostile to sexual assault survivors,” despite similar arguments made by feminist and liberal women in recent years.

Emily Yoffe wrote the following in Slate in 2013:

“Let’s be totally clear: Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them. Young women are getting a distorted message that their right to match men drink for drink is a feminist issue. The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart. That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.”

University of Virginia professor Anne Couglin wrote in The New York Times the same year that “I often have found myself wanting to point out to young women that if they get blind drunk they run a very serious risk of being raped.”

Ruth Marcus stated in The Washington Post, “The best step that young women can take to protect themselves is to stop drinking to excess.”

The Alliance for Justice also took issue with Rao’s opposition to affirmative action, which she called an “anointed dragon of liberal excess.” BuzzFeed’s article did not mention in its article that Rao is Indian-American.

A top official with People for the American Way similarly alleged in a Jan. 31 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Rao has “inflammatory statements and writings on a wide variety of civil rights and other issues.”

According to reporting by Politico, Democrats and the left-wing groups are going even harder offensively against Rao because they are concerned she could be a future pick for the Supreme Court.

“It’s not in the interest of people trying to get her confirmed to cast her as a future Supreme Court contender, but that is how she will be treated by the Democrats,” a Republican familiar with Rao’s confirmation process told Politico.

“Regardless of whether conservatives are floating her as a potential Supreme Court nominee, she was always going to be controversial and get a lot of scrutiny,” a Senate Democratic aide said.

While liberals seek to paint Rao as a radical right-winger unfit for the bench, the American Bar Association on Monday rated her “well qualified.”

“A majority of the Standing Committee is of the opinion that Ms. Rao is ‘Well Qualified,’ and a minority determined that she is ‘Qualified,'” the ABA said in a statement.

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