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Indian-American Neomi Rao to replace Kavanaugh on DC Circuit

November 14, 2018 08:14 IST

United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he has nominated Indian-American Neomi Rao to replace Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.  

IMAGE: Neomi Rao reacts after US President Donald Trump announced that he is nominating her to replace Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the US DC Circuit Court of Appeals during a Diwali ceremonial lighting of the Diya at the White House. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

“She is going to be fantastic. Great person,” he said.         

The powerful US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit is considered next to the US Supreme Court. A formal announcement in this regard is expected to be made by the White House on Wednesday.


“I just nominated Naomi to be on the DC circuit court of appeals, the seat of justice Brett Kavanaugh. That could be a big story,” Trump announced during the White House Diwali celebrations Tuesday.    

Rao thanks the president for the “confidence” he has shown in her by nominating her to the powerful US court. 

If confirmed by the Senate, Rao, 45, would be the second Indian-American judge after Sree Srinivasan on the DC Circuit, which has jurisdiction over important regulatory, national security, and separation of powers questions. 

Rao is currently the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.           

Trump made the announcement at the White House Diwali celebrations in the presence of his top Indian-American officials and Indian Ambassador to the US, Navtej Singh Sarna. 

Called the ‘regulatory czar’ of Trump administration in her current capacity, she oversees implementation of the Administration’s deregulatory agenda and regulation-related executive orders. 

She was confirmed by the Senate with a 54-41 vote in July 2017 to head the OIRA and is known among legal circles as a highly respected administrative law scholar who has distinguished herself for her right-of-center views, media reports stated. 

A former clerk for conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Rao was recommended for the post by former White House counsel Don McGahn. Trump’s nomination of Rao is in recognition of her contribution in cutting down regulations.

Rao has previously served in all three branches of the federal government, and before taking on her current role in the executive branch, she was associate counsel and special assistant to the president for the George W Bush administration.

She has been known for promoting separation of powers in the three branches of government. Prior to joining the Trump administration in July 2017, Rao taught as an associate law professor at George Mason University, where she also founded and directed the Center for the Study of the Administrative State.

A graduate of Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School, Rao also worked in the private sector, in the international arbitration group of the London-based law firm, Clifford Chance LLP.

Born to Zerin Rao anchooling fd Jehangir Narioshang Rao, both Parsi physicians from India, Rao grew up in Michigan and did her srom Detroit High School. She is married to Alan Lefkowitz and the couple has two children.

Lalit K Jha