- The Washington Times - Monday, February 25, 2019

Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri raised concerns Monday over the woman picked to take Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s vacant seat on the circuit appeals court in the District of Columbia, saying he fears Neomi Rao would be an activist judge.

Mr. Hawley, Missouri Republican, said he noticed Ms. Rao’s writings on substantive due process, which was the legal doctrine the high court relied on when issuing Roe v Wade, the case that established a nationwide right to abortion.

“I get worried anytime I see a candidate for the bench who takes a warm view for substantive due process because to me that’s just code for making stuff up from the Constitution,” Mr. Hawley told radio host Marc Cox on Monday.

He said he is still reviewing her record and hasn’t decided whether he can support her.

“She does not have a strong record on life. She has written some things in the past that suggests to me she may be more of a judicial activist,” Mr. Hawley said.

“I just want to make sure we put judges on the bench that respect life,” he added.

Carrie Severino, chief counsel for the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, said Mr. Hawley is getting Ms. Rao wrong.

Neomi Rao is President Trump’s nominee to the second highest court in the land because she is committed to the Constitution and because she has been a warrior in President Trump’s fight against government overreach,” Ms. Severino said.

She cautioned Mr. Hawley not to obstruct Mr. Trump’s picks and compared him to former Sen. Claire McCaskill, the Democrat he unseated last year.

“Instead of supporting President Trump’s top judicial nominee, he is spreading the very same kind of rumors and innuendo and character assassination that Republican leaders fought during Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation,” Ms. Severino said.

Mr. Hawley is not the only senator who raised concerns with Ms. Rao.

Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa Republican, said during the nominee’s confirmation hearing that some of Ms. Rao’s college writings pertaining to date rape worried her after the nominee suggested women have some responsibility in deterring sexual assaults.

Ms. Rao has since come forward and apologized for her college writings, saying she doesn’t blame sexual assault victims for their attacks. The senator and the nominee later met, and Ms. Ernst said Ms. Rao’s apology was heartfelt.

“I had the opportunity to sit down with her last Thursday evening, so I do feel much better about it,” Ms. Ernst told The Washington Times.

Republicans hold a two-seat majority on the committee, and Ms. Rao’s nomination could come up for a vote later this week.

Ms. Rao is currently an official with the White House Office of Management and Budget.

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