Some Recusal Rules of Thumb for Recently Confirmed Judge Rao

by James Goodwin | March 25, 2019

During her confirmation hearing, Neomi Rao – then the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) and President Trump's pick to fill Justice Kavanaugh's vacant seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit – attracted a lot of controversy. Much of it surrounded the outrageous student newspaper commentaries she wrote as an undergrad, in which she casually passed judgment on date rape victims and the scourge of creeping multiculturalism. Now that Rao has been sworn in to a lifetime appointment of passing judgment with the full effect of the law, it's worth looking at another dispute that arose during the hearing – namely, how she should approach her legal and ethical responsibility to recuse herself from cases involving rules she worked on as OIRA administrator.

In an exchange with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal.) during the hearing, Rao pointedly refused to commit to recusing herself from such cases, only meekly promising to make recusal decisions on a case-by-case basis. Belying this naked attempt at obfuscation, though, the applicable law on judicial recusal makes it crystal clear that in Rao's case, recusal is anything but the "close call" she would like to pretend it is. In its broadest terms, that law – not a guideline, but a law – provides that sitting federal judges "shall disqualify [themselves] in any proceeding in which [their] impartiality might reasonably be questioned" ...

Rao's Record as Regulatory Czar Raises Red Flags

by James Goodwin | February 04, 2019
Tomorrow morning, Neomi Rao, the current administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), is set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a hearing on her nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. If confirmed, she would fill the open seat once occupied by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Administrator Rao's nomination has prompted intense media and public scrutiny of her background, and appropriately so, given the high stakes involved. ...

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