You would think that both parties, especially after their joint chant of “USA” at the State of the Union address last week, would be able to come together to celebrate an amazing American success story like Neomi Rao’s.
Ms. Rao, whose parents immigrated to this country from India, has a long and stellar record as a lawyer. After completing her undergraduate studies at Yale, Ms. Rao went on to graduate from the University of Chicago School of Law, clerk for U.S. Supreme Justice Clarence Thomas and serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, as well as in two White House administrations.
Her extensive work in regulatory and administrative law, including at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs overseeing deregulation for the Trump administration, makes her a perfect fit for the D.C. Circuit vacancy, a court that deals often with the alphabet soup of federal agencies.
Faced with her overwhelming qualifications for the job, Democrats like Sen. Kamala Harris are instead choosing to try to thwart Ms. Rao’s nomination — viewed by many as a stepping stone to the highest court — by thumbing through some old articles she wrote for Yale campus publications as an undergraduate student.
If the new standard is to derail the careers of anyone who shared immoderate opinions or made ill-considered decisions while in college, a whole generation of millennials is in trouble: Not only did they do lots of dumb stuff, but now the evidence lives forever on the Internet.
But Ms, Rao’s college columns — considered damning by her Democratic detractors — do not even qualify as “young and dumb.” Instead, she doled out common-sense advice to her fellow undergraduates, recognizing the heinousness of sexual crime while also pointing out that there are practical steps women can take to reduce their chances of being victimized.
“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 And if she drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of her choice. Implying that a drunk woman has no control of her actions, but that a drunk man does strips women of all moral responsibility,” Ms. Rao wrote as a young woman in the mid-1990s.
In a leftist utopia, which would stop sexual violence by “teaching men not to rape” and eviscerating due process, Ms. Rao’s words from college disqualify her as a judge. In the real world, following Ms. Rao’s advice could save many women from horrific sexual harm.
According to the academic journal Alcohol Research & Health, about half of reported sexual assault cases involve alcohol. The connection between excessive consumption and assault is even stronger among college students, the audience of Ms. Rao’s article, where the majority of assaults happen after voluntary consumption of alcohol by both the victim and the assailant. Of course, the prevalence of alcohol involvement in sexual assault cases does not excuse men’s criminal behavior, but no one, least of all Ms. Rao, is suggesting that it does.
Interestingly, even some fair-minded left-leaning cultural commentators have observed the link between alcohol consumption and sexual assault in the past, and some might be able to do so even today, but in the context of blocking a Trump appointee to the federal bench, Democratic senators will only treat Ms. Rao’s words as evidence of extremism, which they are not.
The truly extreme ideology is one that abstractly insists that men and women must be identical in every aspect. By ignoring women’s particular susceptibility to assault, however, this ideology does no favors for real live women, who want to reduce their chances of being victimized in such a terrible way. No amount of ideological rationalization can obscure the plain fact that getting extremely drunk makes females more vulnerable to assault.
Ms. Rao has a career to be proud of and has written nothing to be ashamed of. And society at large cannot afford to grant the outrage crowd, which discourages practical advice young women can use to protect themselves, one more scalp.
• Inez Feltscher Stepman is a senior policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum.