President Trump nominated Neomi Rao to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit Court. But, like many of his nominees, Rao's path to confirmation is a difficult one. This time, a lot of the obstacles are being placed by Republicans. For instance, Rao's writings on date rape from the 1990s gave Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) "pause." In her campus publication the Yale Herald, Rao seemed to suggest that a woman who drinks too much may be partly to blame for her sexual assault. The nominee has since distanced herself from those words and made some attempts to clarify them.
"I failed to recognize the hurt my words could cause a survivor of such crimes," Rao said in a regretful letter to the ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month.
Freshman senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) also has his hesitations. After reading some of Rao's academic writings, he has reason to believe that she is not strong enough on the right to life.
"To me, that means ... someone whose record indicates that they have respect for what the Supreme Court itself has called the interests of the unborn child; someone whose record indicates they will protect the ability of states and local governments to protect the interests of the unborn child to the maximum extent ... and number three somebody who will not extend the doctrines of Roe v. Wade and Casey, which I believe are deeply incompatible with the constitution." (Axios)
Conservative judicial experts say Hawley is stoking unnecessary flames. Carrie Severino, Chief Counsel and Policy Director, Judicial Crisis Network, was especially frustrated with Hawley's criticism. According to her, Hawley is no better than the Democrats who tried to malign Kavanaugh's character.
“Neomi Rao is President Trump’s nominee to the second highest court in the land because she is committed to the Constitution and because she has been a warrior in President Trump’s fight against government overreach," Severino sounded off in a new statement. "Sadly, barely a month after moving to Washington, Josh Hawley is already acting like Claire McCaskill when it comes to judges. Instead of supporting President Trump's top judicial nominee, he is spreading the very same kind of rumors and innuendo and character assassination that Republican leaders fought during Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Hawley could be working to confirm her and other extraordinary nominees, but it seems he’d rather be making headlines.”
Other conservatives like Ralph Reed, Chairman, Faith and Freedom Coalition, are confident in Rao's qualifications.
“Neomi Rao is eminently qualified and her judicial philosophy is antithetical to federal judges issuing rulings untethered from the enumerated rights found in the Constitution," Reed wrote on Monday. "President Trump has made a superb selection and Ms. Rao will make an outstanding judge on the DC Circuit Court if Appeals. Faith & Freedom Coalition strongly supports her nomination and urges the Senate to swiftly confirm her.”