The Senate confirmed President Trump’s judicial nominee Neomi Rao Wednesday to replace now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals with a vote of 53-46 along party lines. Rao, 45, was formerly the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) both voted to confirm her despite voicing concerns during the confirmation process over her past writings on date rape and her views on abortion.
Hawley dropped his concerns that she favored abortion after a “long discussion” with Rao. Ernst’s concerns were addressed by Rao in her testimony and a letter explaining her past writings.
In 1994, Rao wrote an op-ed in “The Yale Herald” that said “a woman, like a man, decides when and how much to drink. And if she drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of choice.”
Rao faced scrutiny over the issue during her confirmation hearings and sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee last month to renounce her past writings and express her current views.
“I particularly regret the insensitivity demonstrated in my remarks on rape and sexual assault,” Rao wrote. “While responding to events and debates on campus, I failed to recognize the hurt that my words would cause a survivor of such crimes. I recognize now the arguments I made might discourage a victim from coming forward or from seeking help.”
“As a college student, I was sheltered,” she added. “Many years later, I have experienced more of the ups and downs of life. Becoming a mother, my perspective has shifted to focus on the safety of my daughter (15) and son (11). With greater maturity, I have more awareness of the silent victims of assault and rape.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) praised Rao just prior to the vote, saying she was “another of the president’s excellent choices to serve as a federal judge.”
“In testimony before our colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, she demonstrated a commitment to maintaining the public trust, and upholding the rule of law,” he emphasized.