Trump’s Kavanaugh Replacement Once Wrote About ‘A Good Way to Avoid Date Rape’

Neomi Rao is currently the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB). She’s also President Donald Trump‘s handpicked successor to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Now, some of Rao’s past op-ed pieces are receiving increased scrutiny.

BuzzFeed News’ Zoe Tillman recently unearthed an article authored by Rao in The Yale Herald which addressed an on-campus date rape controversy implicating a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity during the mid 1990s. That column, “Shades of gray, was published on October 14, 1994.

Rao’s article briefly touched upon some of the specifics of that case–and some ’90s era minutiae concerning Yale campus politics–but the piece largely staked out territory exploring the “battle between the sexes” in the context of date rape. Notably, however, with heavy doses of culture war vocabulary interspersed throughout the column, Rao also advised women to avoid imbibing too much alcohol if they also wished to avoid being raped.

“Today, women can drink and run around with the wildest of the boys,” the column’s thesis begins. “But with freedom from social constraints comes new responsibilities–responsibilities which are all too easy to ignore. Not a year passes without the confusing, bitter, and problematic questions of date rape arising on campus.”

“Just the mention of [any specific date rape allegation] should set off warning bells for the crisis to come,” Rao notes. “Clearly, if the male student forced the woman to have sex against her will, then he should be held responsible. Yet the role of alcohol severely complicates the scenario.”

Mid-way through, the column makes its point clear:

A man who rapes a drunk girl should be prosecuted. At the same time, a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober. … Can the liberated ’90s woman freely choose whether to drink or not? Unless someone made her drinks unquestionably strong or forced them down her throat, 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.

Rao’s article also contains other controversial explorations of date rape culpability.

“Implying that a drunk woman has no control of her actions, but that a drunk man does, strips women of all moral responsibility,” Rao wrote. “It creates a culture of victimization in which men are prowling and uncontrollable, and women are weak and helpless. Any self-respecting person should be troubled and offended by such ideas.”

“A good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober,” Rao said.

The column also appears to make what might arguably be considered apologies for an alleged date rapist.

“Did the woman have regrets the morning after and deny giving consent?” Rao asked out loud. “After a beer-tinged night can anyone really remember what happened?”

“No one will ever really know what happened that night between the two drunken students,” Rao later concludes.

Progressives say that Rao’s writings make her unfit to be a federal judge.

“Neomi Rao’s views are completely disqualifying for someone seeking a lifetime seat on one of our nation’s highest courts,” Alliance For Justice President Nan Aron said in a statement provided to Law&Crime. “The Trump Administration in the past has tried, and failed, to ram through nominees with hostile writings and activities like this in their records — people like Thomas Farr and Ryan Bounds. Senators, including Republicans such as Tim Scott, have stood up and said such nominations are unacceptable. We fully expect all senators to reject the Rao nomination.”

Law&Crime reached out to OMB and each member of the Senate Judiciary Committee for comment on this story but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.

[Alex Wong/Getty Images]

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