Guest Post: Colorado Sens. Bennet and Gardner must reject Neomi Rao for the appellate bench

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit (Photo via cadc.uscourts.gov)

As a South Asian woman and lawyer here in Denver, I support women of color enthusiastically. In fact, I ran in the Democratic Primary in the First Congressional District last year on an explicitly intersectional platform. There are so few women of color in positions of power here in Colorado: not in government, business, academia, science, tech, not in any industry. You name it. 

That’s why it pains me greatly to openly oppose the confirmation of Neomi Rao, who stands to be the first South Asian American woman on an appellate bench if the Senate confirms her in a few weeks. I’m not alone, having joined 73 other South Asian American women lawyers, law professors, and survivor advocates who are deeply troubled by Rao’s record on the environment, gender justice, and affirmative action.

Together, we are urging the Senate not to automatically rubber stamp Rao’s nomination to the federal bench. Specifically, I am imploring Sens. Bennet and Gardner to REJECT RAO. (Feel free to insert joke about me rejecting myself. Plenty of Twitter has already done so).

President Trump nominated Neomi Rao to replace Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. As the current head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Rao is the Trump Administration’s point person to deregulate public protections that benefit all Americans.  In 2017, Rao gutted an equal pay initiative that required employers to collect data on wages by sex, race, and ethnicity, claiming that it was “unnecessarily burdensome.” Rao is also in the process of finalizing a new rule that would allow health care providers to deny medical care to LGBTQ patients, women seeking reproductive health care, and others based on the provider’s “conscientious objections.” If Rao has already expressed such viewpoints through her policy decisions, it seems unlikely that she will be able to bring an objective lens to the cases that will come before her.  

It might seem a far distance from the issues we face here in Colorado, but the DC Circuit Court of Appeals is widely heralded as the second most powerful court in the country. It is considered to be a feeder to the U.S. Supreme Court and Rao’s name has already appeared on a shortlist for SCOTUS candidates. Our democracy depends on independent judges who carefully review the law and the individual cases before them. Neomi Rao’s record opens up the possibility that she will be a partisan judge.  

The Senate must oppose Rao’s confirmation. Senators Bennet and Gardner, please vote NO on Neomi Rao.

The Colorado Independent occasionally runs guest posts from government officials, local experts and concerned citizens on a variety of topics. These posts are meant to provide diverse perspectives and do not represent the views of The Independent. To pitch a guest post, please contact tips@coloradoindependent.com or visit our submission page

Saira Rao is a racial justice activist, former congressional candidate and co-founder of In This Together Media, You can find Saira on Twitter @sairasameerarao.

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