When Brett Kavanaugh was elevated to the Supreme Court late in 2018, it left his seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals empty. Already three months into 2019, and his spot has finally been filled, but it’s not a decision that many people will be happy with.
Neomi Rao, who was nominated by U.S. President Donald Trump to fill Kavanaugh’s vacant seat at the beginning of February already, sparked outrage when people looked into her background. Shortly after her nomination, she was forced to answer questions about some of her writings from her college years, during which she blamed rape victims for their own assaults.
One of the concerns raised about her nomination centered around the fact that victims of sexual assault would not want to report their attack to law enforcement if the judge they would have to face would be telling them their assault was their own fault.
Despite the controversy surrounding her, on Wednesday the senate voted to confirm her to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to CNN.
The vote was completely split between Republicans and Democrats, with every single Republican voting for her confirmation, and every single Democrat in the Senate voting against her confirmation. This should come as no surprise given how closely Rao has been working with the Trump administration “overseeing regulatory rollbacks” for the president, in her role at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
Although her criticism of rape victims was written back when she was still a student in the 1990s, many were concerned that her views on the subject still stood today. At the time, she explained that she felt women who decided to drink too much and were then taken advantage of by men were partially responsible because it was their choice to get intoxicated.
In February, after being grilled by members of the Senate on both sides about her writings, she issued a formal apology.
“Sexual assault in all forms, including date rape, is abhorrent. Responsibility for the rape is with the rapist. I believed that as a college student and continue to believe that today,” she wrote. “As a society, we should create an environment where survivors feel empowered and comfortable coming forward. I am sorry for anything in my college writings to the contrary. As a college student, I was sheltered. Many years later, I have experienced more of the ups and downs of life… With greater maturity, I have more awareness of the silent victims of assault and rape.”
The apology was taken with a grain of salt by activist groups, who felt that her opinion on rape and rape victims made her “unfit to serve for a lifetime on the federal bench.”
With Rao now confirmed to the Circuit Court of Appeals, there are just nine spots left open. Trump has already nominated six candidates to fill them, and it is believed that Sen. Mitch McConnell plans to crack on with confirming them before the end of the summer.