- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The nominee tapped to take Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s old appeals court seat in Washington apologized 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.

Sen. Joni Ernst said she felt much better about Ms. Rao’s explanation after the further apology.

The Iowa Republican recently revealed she was raped in college and said during Ms. Rao’s confirmation hearing the writings were concerning.

“I had the opportunity to sit down with her last Thursday evening so I do feel much better about it,” said Ms. Ernst, adding she thought the further apology was heartfelt. Though, she didn’t disclose whether she will vote to confirm the nominee.

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

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