A victim-blaming nominee could take Brett Kavanaugh's old appeals court seat
It would be horribly fitting if alleged sexual assaulter Brett Kavanaugh’s seat on the D.C Circuit Court went to Neomi Rao, who has previously argued that date-rape victims are to blame, among other disqualifying things.
While at Yale in the 1990s, Rao wrote numerous op-eds in which she “she described race as a ‘hot, money-making issue,’ affirmative action as the ‘anointed dragon of liberal excess,’ welfare as being for ‘for the indigent and lazy,’ and LGBT issues as part of ‘trendy’ political movements.” All of this served as her audition for a plum spot on the Federalist Society’s approved list of nominees. But her argument that if a woman “drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of her choice” had even Republican Sen. Joni Ernst (newly appointed to the Judiciary Committee because Republicans realized they had a “woman problem” in the Kavanaugh process) concerned.
“I had a chance to review a number of your writings while you were in college. They do give me pause. Not just from my own personal experiences but regarding messages we send young women everywhere,” Ernst told Rao. In response to that and questioning from Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, Rao said her views while she was in college are now “cringeworthy,” that rape is a “terrible crime” and “no one should blame a victim.” However, she said, she was trying to “make the commonsense observation that women can take certain steps to make sure they’re not a victim.” Which strongly suggests she’s still blaming the victim.
“Here’s the bottom line: survivors of sexual assault should not be blamed for the trauma they’ve experienced,” Harris tweeted after the hearing. “Neomi Rao’s prior writings about sexual assault are completely unacceptable and her responses to my questions today were deeply troubling.” Rao’s latest job as head of the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is also troubling. The agency has been busy rolling back regulations, including those under Title IX that would not just allow but in many cases require that schools dismiss reports of sexual assault on campus and create disincentives for survivors to even report the crimes, including requiring in-person hearings on sexual assault allegations in which survivors would be cross-examined by their attacker’s representatives.
That’s just one of the many troubling aspects of this nominee, one that should make Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins and even Ernst take a second, very deep look. That’s possible with Murkowski, and highly unlikely with Collins. She’s made her bed in Trump’s house. There’s very little to stop this nominee at this point, as Democrats simply don’t have enough votes to stop her. The Republican women of the Senate, however, could.