All We Know About Neomi Rao, Indian-American Judge Chosen by Trump

The new DC Circuit Court judge has been open about her opposition to Congressional curbs on presidential power.

2 min read
US President Donald Trump has picked an Indian-American woman, Neomi Rao, as Judge Kavanaugh’s replacement in the US Circuit Court of Appeals for District of Columbia.

At the White House’s Diwali celebrations, US President Donald Trump announced that an Indian-American, Neomi Rao, would be his nomination to replace Judge Kavanaugh in his vacated seat on the US Circuit Court of Appeals for DC, after his confirmation to the Supreme Court. While Republicans stoutly weathered accusations of attempted rape and protests against Kavanaugh in order to confirm him, they may be aiming to mitigate the damage to their perception of being anti-woman and racially biased by appointing an Indian-American woman to replace him.

So what do we know about Neomi Rao, the 45-year-old ‘regulatory czar’, as she has been called?

Meet the Family

Neomi Rao is the daughter of Indian parents, Dr Jehangir Rao and Dr Zerin Rao, who emigrated to the US in 1972 and settled in Detroit, according to her statement at a hearing on her nomination as administrator in her previous position.

In her statement, she wrote about how her parents had emigrated to the US with nothing but $16 and their medical degrees. Her mother had “died too young of cancer,” she says in the statement.

She has two children, Isabella and Ezra, and is married to Alan Lefkowitz.

What Are Her Qualifications?

Neomi Rao is by all accounts a respected legal scholar. At the time of her nomination in the DC Circuit, she had been an administrator at the Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the Office of Management and Budget at the White House since 2017, according to Washington Post. As administrator of OIRA, Rao was responsible for “vetting and tallying cost estimates for most regulations”, Washington Post reported.

Prior to her posting there, she was associate law professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School in Virginia. While there, she also founded its Center for the Study of the Administrative State, her statement reads.

She is a graduate of Yale University, and studied law at the University of Chicago Law School, completing her studies in 2000. After that, she had also worked as associate counsel and special assistant to former US president George W Bush.

In Praise of Donald Trump

In a Washington Post op-ed in October 2018, Rao had written in praise of the Trump administration for its regulatory efforts, which she wrote had “saved billions of dollars”.

Rao is a conservative and staunch Republican, who favours the idea that federal agencies should be abolished, in line with what one-time White House strategist and ideologue Steve Bannon envisioned. She has previously written that heads of federal agencies should be liable to dismissal by the president.

In her writings, Rao has also been critical of Congressional curbs on presidential power, particularly in the removal or dismissal of agency heads.

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