‘Inquisition’ Called Out at Judicial Nominee Hearing

During this week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on her nomination for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Neomi Rao was grilled by a prominent Democrat senator on what she believes to be sin.

Recently announced presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) used his time to bully Rao into answering her thoughts on the morality of homosexual relationships. Unsatisfied with her response, he pressed, “Do you believe they are a sin?”

Rao refused to give Booker the “yes” or “no” he wanted, and said, “My answer is that these personal views are ones that I would put to one side – whatever my personal views are on this subject, I would faithfully follow the precedents of the Supreme Court.”

Booker also demanded to know if she ever had an employee that identifies as LGBTQ. Rao responded, “To be honest, I don’t know the sexual orientation of my staff. I take people as they come irrespective of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation – I treat people as individuals. Those are the values I grew up with and those are the values I would apply if confirmed.”

Immediately following Booker came questioning by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who called out this latest example of religious “inquisition.” Cruz declared:

We’ve seen a growing pattern among Senate Democrats of hostility to religious faith. I have to say I was deeply troubled a few minutes ago to hear questioning of a nominee asking your personal views on what is sinful. In my view that has no business in this committee. Article VI of the Constitution says there shall be no religious test for any public office. We have seen Senate Democrats attack what they characterized as religious dogma. We’ve seen Senate Democrats attack nominees for personal views on salvation. I don’t believe this is a theological court of inquisition. I think the proper avenue of investigation of this committee is a nominee’s record.

Rao is a former professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, where she founded the law school’s Center for the Study of the Administrative State. She has experience in all three branches of government in work including service for President George W. Bush, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, and Justice Clarence Thomas at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rao currently serves as Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), and she was a speaker at last September’s Capitol Hill Media Summit for members of the NRB President’s Council.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: February 8, 2019

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