College writings catch up with Donald Trump’s Indian-American judge nominee Neomi Rao
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College writings catch up with Donald Trump’s Indian-American judge nominee Neomi Rao

Indian American lawyer Neomi Rao’s nomination is attracting close scrutiny also because, as some reports have indicated, she has been added to the White House’s list of potential nominees for the Supreme Court, if and when a slot falls vacant on the nine-member bench.

world Updated: Jan 23, 2019 11:22 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Donald Trump,Neomi Rao,Neomi Rao writings
US president Donald Trump on Tuesday re-sent a list of 51 judicial nominees including an Indian American lawyer Neomi Rao, who is under fire for her past writings. (Reuters Photo)

US president Donald Trump on Tuesday re-sent a list of 51 judicial nominees including an Indian American lawyer Neomi Rao, who is under fire for her past writings in which she partly blamed women victims of date-rape, described race as a “hot, money-making issue” and LGBT issues as “trendy”.

Rao, who is currently serving as Trump’s deregulation czar in the Office of Management and Budget, was nominated to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the DC court of appeals in November last year but her nomination with hundreds of others expired with the last Congress.

Questions were raised if she would be re-nominated in the aftermath of the controversial writings that had surfaced since.

Rao’s nomination is attracting close scrutiny also because, as some reports have indicated, she has been added to the White House’s list of potential nominees for the Supreme Court, if and when a slot falls vacant on the nine-member bench.

Her writings go back mostly to her days at Yale and the Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine that closed recently. A list of these articles was compiled by a liberal advocacy group Alliance for Justice (AFJ) and distributed to news publications last week.

In an article in the Standard in 1996, Rao wrote critically about two African American scholars and said they “position themselves above the corporate hype. Race may be a hot, money-making issue, but even … (one of the two men) seems to realize that it can be talked to death”.

In a 1994 article in the Yale Herald, Rao wrote that while men accused of raping a drunk woman must be prosecuted, “a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober.”

“And if she drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of her choice,” Rao wrote. “Implying that a drunk woman has no control of her actions, but that a drunk man does strips women of all moral responsibility.”

Also in the Yale Herald, she wrote in 1994 while commenting on a rift between LGTB groups on the campus, that “Trendy political movements have only recently added sexuality to the standard checklist of traits requiring tolerance.”

AFJ president Nan Aron has questioned Rao’s nomination to the DC circuit saying it is “second in importance only to the U.S. Supreme Court (and the nomination) appears to be entirely consistent with this administration’s stated goal of using the justice system to eviscerate a whole host of legal protections for Americans”.

But the department of justice has defended Rao, saying she was being “intentionally provocative” in those writing.

“Neomi Rao is a renowned constitutional and administrative law expert. That is why the President nominated her to the DC Circuit. The views she expressed a quarter century ago as a college student writing for her student newspaper were intentionally provocative, designed to raise questions and push back against liberal elitism that dominated her campus at the time,” a spokesperson told BuzzFeed.

“More than two decades later, her views can be found in her numerous academic articles and speeches. We are confident Ms Rao will make an exemplary judge on the DC Circuit,” the spokesperson added.

But the controversial college writings can cause trouble. One of Trump’s judicial nominees was forced to withdraw his nomination last year over an article written by him in college.

First Published: Jan 23, 2019 11:10 IST