Neomi Rao, Kavanaugh’s circuit court replacement, apologizes for college writings on date rape

February 12, 2019

The woman tapped to take Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s old spot on the circuit appeals court in Washington apologized Monday for college writings she said were insensitive to survivors of sexual assault.

Neomi Rao, nominated to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, distanced herself from her Yale University musings from two decades ago during her confirmation hearing last week, but she again expressed regret in a letter sent to Judiciary Committee members this week.

The letter comes after Democrats and one female Republican expressed concerns over her writings, in particular one article where she suggested women who drink to excess may be partly to blame for sexual assaults.

“I recognize now the arguments I made might discourage a victim from coming forward or from seeking help. With little knowledge or experience, I lacked the perspective of how this might be perceived by others, particularly victims of sexual assault,” Ms. Rao’s letter read.

Ms. Rao, currently an official with the White House Office of Management and Budget, in her 1994 writing in The Yale Herald, said that if a woman “drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of her choice.”

She went on to say college students both male and female want to drink and forget about their papers so they can have fun. She suggested women shouldn’t be treated differently based on sex stereotyping.

“Implying that a drunk woman has no control of her actions, but that a drunk man does, strips women of all moral responsibility. It creates a culture of victimization in which men are prowling and uncontrollable, and women are weak and helpless,” she wrote in the article titled, “Shades of Gray.”

But after becoming a mother and seeing her parents work with survivors of assault and domestic violence, Ms. Rao said her views have changed.

“I have not written or spoken about issues of rape or sexual assault since college. If I were to address these issues now, I would have more empathy and perspective,” she wrote in her letter.

The committee is set to consider Ms. Rao’s nomination later this week.

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