Politics, , , ,

Senate Advances Trump Court Pick Who Blamed Women For Date Rape

WASHINGTON ― The Senate voted Tuesday to advance President Donald Trump’s judicial nominee Neomi Rao, who has a record of weakening protections for sexual assault survivors and once argued that women could avoid date rape by staying sober.

The Senate voted 53-46 to move forward with Rao’s nomination to a lifetime seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the second most powerful court in the country and often a stepping stone to a seat on the Supreme Court. Every Republican voted for her. Every Democrat voted against her except for Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who did not vote.

Rao will get her final confirmation vote on Wednesday. If confirmed, as expected, she will fill the seat formerly held by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

A 45-year-old lawyer, Rao runs the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a division of the Office of Management and Budget that evaluates federal government regulations. Since November 2017, she’s stalled proposed guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to give employers more information on how to handle sexual misconduct. And under her leadership, OIRA signed off on a proposed rule change by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that would narrow the definition of sexual harassment and assault on college campuses and strengthen the rights of the accused.

Honestly, where do my Republican colleagues find these people?
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

But most of the criticism directed at Rao stems from inflammatory articles she wrote from 1992 to 1996 ― she graduated from Yale University in 1995 ― on sexual assault, race and LGBTQ rights.

In a 1994 op-ed in The Yale Herald, Rao wrote that “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 her choice.” She added that a “good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober.”

In an April 1993 piece in the Yale Free Press, Rao said the “controversy” over sexual assault “has been painted in terms of ‘yes’ and ‘no’, reducing sex to something merely consensual.” She said “non-verbal communication plays an undeniable role,” and while she is “not arguing that date rape victims ask for it, when playing the modern dating game women have to understand and accept the consequences of their sexuality.”

On race, Rao wrote in February 1995 that “Yale has dedicated itself to a relatively firm meritocracy, which drops its standards only for a few minorities, some legacies and a football player here or there.” In another piece she wrote at Yale, she denounced “special treatment for minority students” and suggested that students of color have an unfair advantage by having “ethnic deans” devoted to assisting them.

Rao also wrote in November 1994 that the push for LGBTQ rights was a “trendy political movement,” and in July 1994, wrote that “multiculturalists are trying to undermine American culture.”

Neomi Rao's record on addressing sexual assault, both in practice and in writing, is so bad.



Neomi Rao’s record on addressing sexual assault, both in practice and in writing, is so bad.

Democrats grilled Rao about her past writings during her Senate confirmation hearing in early February. A week later, she wrote to committee leaders apologizing for her past comments and stating that “sexual assault in all forms, including date rape, is abhorrent.”

“Honestly, where do my Republican colleagues find these people?” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked Monday. “The majority party always nominates judges that have a particular bent, we know that. But the Trump administration’s nominees, by and large, are not mainstream conservatives. They’re right-wing ideologues.”

Rao has never been a judge. She previously clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and worked in the White House counsel’s office under President George W. Bush. Rao is also a member of the conservative Federalist Society, which has been driving Trump’s judicial selection process and funneling anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ nominees to the White House.

If confirmed, Rao would be the second Indian-American after Sri Srinivasan to land a seat on the D.C. Circuit. But unlike Srinivasan, Rao has drawn opposition from prominent Indian-Americans, such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Vanita Gupta, the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

“Her past is her prologue,” Gupta said. “Her writings have demonstrated hostility towards sexual assault survivors, racial discrimination, climate change, and LGBTQ people.”



ViaHuffingtonPost

Author Since: Sep 20, 2018