Indian American Neomi Rao, 45, has been appointed to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to fill the vacancy created by Brett Kavanaugh’s elevation to the U.S. Supreme Court.
President Donald Trump made an unscheduled announcement regarding Ms. Rao’s nomination at the White House’s diya (lamp) lighting ceremony on Tuesday afternoon, as part of the administration’s Deepavali celebrations. Ms. Rao is currently the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the White House, which assesses the costs and benefits of government regulations.
“We were going to announce that tomorrow and I said you know, ‘Here we are Neomi, we’re never going to do better than this’,” Mr. Trump said, standing among officials from the Indian Embassy in Washington DC, including Indian Ambassador Navtej Sarna.
A powerful court
Ms. Rao, born to parents from India, is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School. If confirmed, she will sit on what is considered the second most powerful court in the country.
Apart from Justice Kavanaugh, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas are the Supreme Court judges to have served on the DC Court of Appeals.
Just like a significant proportion of Trump-appointed officials, Ms. Rao clerked for Justice Thomas, the most conservative of the Supreme Court Justices. She is a speaker at The Federalist Society, an organisation that promotes conservative and libertarian legal thinking and which played a key role in promoting the candidacy of Justice Kavanaugh.
She is a proponent of deregulation and small government. and founded the Centre for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University, an institute that has benefited from funds donated by the conservative Koch brothers.
Ms. Rao’s appointment will have to be confirmed by the Senate.