Neomi Rao, US President Donald Trump’s Indian American nominee for the District of Columbia Court of Appeals judgeship has apologized for her controversial college writings about date-rape victims, which had come under scrutiny.
Rao would replace Brett Kavanaugh on the nation’s second-most powerful court as the latter was elevated to the Supreme Court. But she came under fire during her confirmation hearing last week over op-eds she wrote as an undergraduate at Yale University.
In an article on date rape, Rao wrote that if a woman “drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of her choice”.
In a letter on Monday to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Rao condemned “sexual assault in all forms” as “abhorrent” and said that she “particularly regret(s) the insensitivity demonstrated in my remarks on rape and sexual assault”, the Washington Post reported.
Rao, who serves as the White House’s regulatory czar, described herself as a “sheltered” college student and said that her perspective on the issue evolved as she grew more mature and became a mother to two children.
“I particularly regret the insensitivity demonstrated in my remarks on rape and sexual assault,” she wrote. “While responding to events and debates on campus, I failed to recognize the hurt that my words would cause a survivor of such crimes.
“No woman or man should be subject to sexual violence, regardless of the clothes they wear or how much alcohol they consumed. Non-consensual sexual activity is never appropriate or excusable,” Rao wrote to the committee.
“Victims should not be blamed for the terrible things that have happened to them… We should create an environment where survivors feel empowered and comfortable coming forward.”
Senator Joni Ernst, a new Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, who recently disclosed that she had been raped in college, earlier told Rao that her writings “do give me pause” and that she was concerned about the message Rao’s columns send to young women.
At the time, Ernst said she was undecided on whether to support Rao’s confirmation, according to the Post.
The Senator said on Monday evening that she met Rao privately last week, where the nominee again explained her early writings as the work of someone who lacked the perspective she has now.
“I would say, just sitting down with her one-on-one and just her expressing herself, I feel a lot better about where I am now,” Ernst said.
“I haven’t made that firm commitment yet (on her nomination), but I’m just glad to know where she stands and it allayed a lot of fears.”
The DC Circuit is considered as a pipeline for future Supreme Court justices.