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Neomi Rao

U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Judge; Former Administrator at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OMB)

Nominated by Trump to OMB: 4-7-2017

Who is Neomi Rao?

The Trump-Pence administration has issued policy after policy to undermine sexual and reproductive health care and rights. That includes issuing a "gag rule" that would stop health care providers  in the nation’s family planning program from telling patients about how and where to access abortion. Neomi Rao played a role in pushing the gag rule through. In fact, President Trump originally tapped Rao to oversee the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) because he wanted a "deregulatory czar" to cut down on government regulations — except when it comes to abortion, apparently.

"[D]angerous feminist idealism ... teaches women that they are equal. Women believe falsely that they should be able to go anywhere with anyone."

ACT NOW: Sign our people's brief to stop the Title X gag rule!

Here is what Neomi Rao controls

U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

The OMB helps the president meet his policy, budget, management and regulatory goals. The OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is the federal government’s main authority for reviewing White House regulations and approving all rules issued by the administration.

Related Policies

The Title X Gag Rule

Abortion Coverage

Background on Neomi Rao

Taking Brett Kavanaugh’s Old Seat on a Powerful Federal Court

In March 2019 the Senate confirmed President Trump’s nominee, Neomi Rao, to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Moving from the OMB to this lifetime position gives Rao continued power over people’s health and lives. What’s more, the D.C. Circuit Court is one of the most powerful courts in the United States (after the Supreme Court). The D.C. Circuit Court hears many cases involving the administration’s rules and regulations. Rao now is in the position of deciding whether to uphold the very same rules she approved as an administrator at the OMB — and at her confirmation hearing, Rao refused to say if she’d recuse herself from hearing those cases.

Dismantling Title X

Under Rao, the OMB approved a final version of the gag rule. The gag rule would radically change Title X, the one federal program meant to ensure that people with low incomes have access to affordable reproductive care, including birth control, STD testing, and breast and cervical cancer screenings.

Rewire News
Blaming Rape Survivors

Rao has tried to distance herself from her earlier writings on sexual assault, but she has a record of victim-blaming. In the 1990s, she inaccurately wrote that the upside to women’s oppression was that it historically came with chivalry and protections from rape. According to Rao, modern freedoms mean women should be responsible for staying out of situations — like social drinking — that could lead to rape. She explained that if a woman "drinks to the point where she can no longer choose [to consent], well, getting to that point was part of her choice."

Ignoring Gender, Racial Discrimination

Despite evidence to the contrary, Rao said Yale classrooms didn’t have any gender discrimination. Her reasoning was laced with racism: She said discrimination against female students didn’t exist because the school followed a meritocracy that "drops its standards only for a few minorities, some legacies and a football player here and there." In that same time period, she wrote that she believed affirmative action was the "anointed dragon of liberal excess."

USA Today
Supporting Harmful Regulations

Neomi Rao's job at OMB was to oversee the review of regulations from Trump administration agencies. Rao is supposed to make sure the regulations comply with the law — and send them back for changes when they don’t. But she has played a role in advancing the Trump administration's agenda by pushing through numerous regulations that undermine rights and protections.

Federalist Society Membership, Anti-Reproductive Health Views

Like many Trump appointees, Rao is a Federalist Society member. The Federalist Society leadership is dedicated to conservative legal philosophy, including overturning Roe v. Wade — the Supreme Court case that recognized the constitutional right to abortion. And, like fellow Trump-appointed administrators, Neomi Rao has longstanding, backward views that threaten to undermine sexual health and reproductive rights.

Huffington Post
Giving Sympathy to Perpetrators of Date Rape

While she was a student, Rao described reactions to campus sexual assault as "hysteria over date rape." She wrote that date rapes occur because "casual sex for women often leads to regret." She called on women to "accept responsibility for their sexuality" and not blame rapists for misunderstanding women’s "subtle glances, ambiguous words."