Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

This #GivingTuesday, whatever is your first priority, your second priority has to be independent media.

2021 has been one of the most dangerous and difficult years for independent journalism that we’ve ever seen. Our democracy is facing existential threats including the climate emergency, vaccine apartheid amid deadly pandemic, a global crisis for biodiversity, reproductive freedoms under assault, rising authoritarianism worldwide, and corporate-funded corruption of democracy that run beneath all of this. Giving Tuesday is a critical opportunity to make sure our journalism remains funded so that we can stay focused on all your priority issues. Please contribute today to keep Common Dreams alive and growing.

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

Neomi Rao, President Donald Trump's pick to replace Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, wrote in the early 1990s that women who are sexually assaulted after becoming drunk are partiually to blame for their attacks. (Photo: Twitter)

'Not Qualified': Critics Decry Bigoted Views of Trump's Pick to Replace Kavanaugh on DC Circuit Court

"We don't need any more rape apologist judges."

Julia Conley

President Donald Trump is hoping to fill Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's former seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit with a former law professor whose early writings on the government and justice betrayed misogynist and bigoted views—leaving critics concerned on Monday that the president is remaking the country's second-highest court in his own image.

As Buzzfeed reported, Neomi Rao is currently an administrator in Trump's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs who has never served as a judge. Before her career in government and as a law professor, Rao attended Yale University, graduating in 1995. During her time at Yale and just after graduating Rao wrote a number of troubling essays and articles about rape survivors, the poor, and race relations.

"She didn't just carve out a conservative political position in these writings, she affirmatively attacked the equal dignity of the kinds of people who most need the protections of law that our constitution guarantees." —Marge Baker, People for the American WayOne article for the Yale Herald, written in 1994, garnered much of the condemnation aimed at Rao. The nominee wrote that if a woman who has been raped drank "to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of her choice," and suggested that she's therefore partially to blame for the crime.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights called the comments "disturbing" and said a record of such views should disqualify Rao from consideration for the D.C. Circuit court, from which presidents have often selected Supreme Court nominees.

Rao was nominated last November to replace Kavanaugh after he was confirmed as Trump's second Supreme Court pick. The Senate adjourned at the end of December with her confirmation still pending, but Rao's nomination is expected to be resubmitted by the White House.

Other writings that were submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee after Rao's initial nomination included a 1996 Weekly Standard article in which she dismissed race as a "hot money-making issue" for activist and author Cornel West and called the LGBTQ rights movement a "trendy" political moment.

Also in the 1996 in the Weekly Standard, Rao called affirmative action "the anointed dragon of liberal excess."

A year earlier, she had taken aim at affirmative action as well as "women's rights, special rights for the handicapped, and welfare for the indigent and lazy," as evidence that "elitism is a forgotten and embarrassing concept" in an article for the Yale Free Press.

A spokesperson for Rao told Buzzfeed that the views she had expressed were "intentionally provocative"—but critics argue that her crudely-worded hostility toward those with disabilities, women, and people who rely on government assistance has since been mirrored by the president who nominated her for the judgeship.

"Neomi Rao's columns are consistent with this administration's support of candidates who make racially insensitive statements and comments hostile to sexual assault survivors. She shouldn't be awarded a seat on the second highest court in the country," said Nan Aron, president of Alliance for Justice, on Twitter.

Aron also told Buzzfeed that "Rao had decades to disavow what she wrote in college and had not."

"The statements made by Neomi Rao are alarming evidence of her unfitness for the bench," said Marge Baker of People for the American Way. "No one who reads these writings can possibly believe that people of color, survivors of sexual assault, and LGBT people can expect an equal hearing in her courtroom. She didn't just carve out a conservative political position in these writings, she affirmatively attacked the equal dignity of the kinds of people who most need the protections of law that our constitution guarantees."

"The Senate needs to make clear that its constitutional responsibility to ensure equal justice outweighs politics and partisanship," Baker added.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Research Reveals How PR Firms Have Spent Decades Fueling Climate Misinformation

"The best time to stop working for fossil fuel clients was 20 years ago, when we had much more time to stop the climate emergency. The second best time is now."

Jessica Corbett ·


Progressives Decry US Gun Control Failures After 'Truly Sickening' Michigan School Shooting

"A 15-year-old shooter may have picked up the weapon, but Congress—through its inaction on gun violence—may as well have handed it to him."

Brett Wilkins ·


New Climate Study Predicting More Rain Than Snow in the Arctic 'Rings Alarm Bells'

"There are huge ramifications of these changes," said the lead researcher, "all of which have implications on wildlife populations and human livelihoods."

Jessica Corbett ·


Durbin Introduces Amendment to End 'Legacy of Cruelty' by Closing Guantánamo

"It's time at long last to face reality and... close the detention facility at Guantánamo. Let's put this dark chapter behind us once and for all."

Brett Wilkins ·


With SCOTUS Set to Hear Abortion Case, Anti-Choice Groups Prepare to Enact 'Post-Roe Strategy'

Right-wing groups are lobbying lawmakers to pass state-level restrictions and ban sales of abortion pills, should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo