As Congress is preparing to vote on Neomi Rao ’95 — President Donald Trump’s pick to replace Brett Kavanaugh ’87 LAW ’90 on the U.S. Court of Appeals in the D.C. Circuit — her lack of experience and a history of controversial statements have come under scrutiny.
After attending Yale and the University of Chicago Law School, Rao clerked for two judges, worked for the George W. Bush ’68 White House and later became an associate professor of law at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. But despite her lengthy legal career, Rao has never argued a case in either a state or a federal court. Still, Rao said she believes that her “practical and scholarly experience” qualifies her for the position, according to her testimony in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 6.
But Rao has also stirred up controversy with the op-eds she wrote during her time at Yale. A member of the Party of the Right and a writer for the Yale Herald and the Yale Free Press, Rao often penned articles about issues regarding race, affirmative action, welfare and LGBTQ rights. Buzzfeed reported in January that the op-eds Rao wrote were often inflammatory — for example, she once wrote a piece on date rape for the Herald where she said that if a woman “drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of her choice.”
The finding of Rao’s opinions comes just months after Kavanaugh’s own appointment to the Supreme Court stirred controversy after three women accused him of sexual misconduct. Still, in the wake of her nomination process, Rao said she has recognized some of her earlier faults.
“To be honest, looking back at some of those writings, I cringe at some of the language I used,” Rao said in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 6.
Although many Yalies were not aware of the controversy, some students said that they felt that her nomination and opinions that came to light reopened wounds left from Kavanaugh’s appointment.
“Appointing someone controversial and outspoken on such an issue with her opinion is not helping us forget the controversy around Kavanaugh’s appointment,” said Ainsley Weber ’22.
Congress is slated to vote on Rao’s nomination on Thursday, Feb. 7.
Samuel Turner | email@example.com .