Rao Confirmed to D.C. Circuit Despite Sex Assault Writings

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The Senate confirmed Neomi Rao to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Wednesday despite opposition from Democrats and initial concerns from a handful of Republicans over her writings on sexual assault and her position on abortion, reports Politico. In a 53-46 vote along party lines, the Senate approved Rao to replace Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the court. During Rao’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) grilled the nominee, who is head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, on her views on date rape and gender equality. In an article written as an undergraduate at Yale, Rao 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.”

Ernst, one of two Republican women on the Senate Judiciary Committee, criticized Rao at the time, saying the nominee’s writing gave “her pause.” Ernst previously said she was raped in college. Ernst’s concerns were eased after Rao sent a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that expressed regret for her college writings. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), another commitee member, voiced concerns about Rao’s views on abortion. However, both Ernst and Hawley voted to confirm her. Senate Democrats raised questions about the circumstances under which she would recuse herself from cases challenging Trump administration regulations. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said that Rao’s record “shows she will continue to tilt our courts in favor of the powerful few and leave everyone else behind.”

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