Brett Kavanaugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court created a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. I suspect that every star conservative lawyer in Washington under the age of, say, 52 had eyes on this seat.
Today, President Trump nominated Neomi Rao to fill it. Rao currently serves as the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), a Senate-confirmed job. She is, in effect, the Trump administration’s regulatory czar.
In that capacity, Rao has spearheaded the administration’s deregulatory agenda, including the effort to cut two regulations for every new one introduced. A lawsuit challenging the administration’s two-for-one order was dismissed earlier this year.
Rao thus seems like a strong selection, from a conservative perspective, for a court that reviews on appeal the majority of litigation involving the various federal agencies.
Before joining the Trump administration, Rao taught at the Antonin Scalia Law School (George Mason University). As a professor, she focused on issues involving administrative law.
Rao is a graduate of Yale and of the University of Chicago Law School. After law school, she clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson on the Fourth Circuit and then for Justice Thomas on the Supreme Court.
The Democrats, of course, will hate this nomination. However, barring some sort of scandal in Rao’s past (real, not invented), they will be powerless to prevent her confirmation — if not this year by the current Senate, then early next year by the new, more Republican and conservative one.