Lessons from Kavanaugh Replacement Hearing – Democrats are Clueless about Conservative Women
Op-ed by CFJ director of public policy Ashley Baker published in Fox News:
The women's movement was on display at this week's State of the Union address as Democrat Congresswomen wore suffragette white to celebrate their solidarity and New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez celebrated the resistance to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh by making the Kavanaugh protestor who cornered then-Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator her guest. One would expect that these same Democratic women would be similarly excited that a woman has been nominated for Kavanaugh's now empty seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
But just the opposite was true when the Senate Judiciary Committee met Tuesday to hear from Neomi Rao, the D.C. Circuit nominee. I'd like to say I was surprised but Rao is a conservative and, on the Hill, the #MeToo movement is about partisan politics rather than about women.
Rao was given the highest rating (“well-qualified”) by the liberal American Bar Association – a higher rating than Justice Elena Kagan received when nominated to the same court in 1999 – and should be a non-contentious choice. A former Supreme Court clerk, she was recently confirmed by the Senate as administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in 2017 and was previously the founder and director of the Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University's law school.
The D.C. Circuit hears the largest share of cases related to administrative law and regulatory agencies, so Rao is the perfect fit.
The problem for Democrats is that the D.C. Circuit, often called “the second highest court in the land”, is a stepping stone to the Supreme Court. Of the nine justices currently on the Supreme Court, four have come from the D.C. Circuit. Democrats see Rao, a minority woman, as a contender for the next Supreme Court vacancy and are determined to wound her in advance.
This is nothing new. An irony of Democrats' judicial confirmation politics is that their efforts to thwart nominations deliberately and disproportionately impact stellar minority and female nominees. Just ask Miguel Estrada or Janice Rogers Brown...