President Trump is nominating Neomi Rao, head of the White House regulatory affairs office, to the influential federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
If confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Rao would fill the seat vacated by Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who served on the appeals court for 12 years.
Mr. Trump made the announcement at a White House ceremony celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.
Ms. Rao is administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within the White House Office of Management and Budget. In that post, she has worked to carry out the president’s efforts at reducing regulatory burdens.
She has clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
During the second term of President George W. Bush, Ms. Rao worked in the White House counsel’s office. She later became a tenured professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.
The network of conservative groups affiliated with billionaire industrialist Charles Koch threw its support behind her nomination.
“Neomi Rao is a fantastic pick and will carry on her predecessor’s legacy of reigning in the excesses of the administrative state,” said Adam Brandon, president of FreedomWorks. “She was already leading the way on regulatory reform as the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, facilitating billions in reduced regulatory economic burdens over the last two years.”
He said the group’s “expansive grass-roots community has been critical in ensuring the confirmation of numerous pro-liberty judicial appointees throughout the Trump administration, and FreedomWorks looks forward to doing the same for Neomi Rao.”
Progressives panned the announcement.
“Rao has never seen a regulation she didn’t hate, and as a judge would dismantle 40 years of environmental and social progress,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Her confirmation would be the most damaging and regressive yet by Trump after [Justices] Kavanaugh and [Neil M.] Gorsuch.”