Published in Morning Consult.
In early February, I joined several South Asian American women as we stood in silent protest during Neomi Jehangir Rao’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. We represented the 70-plus South Asian women lawyers, law professors and survivor advocates who asked senators to reject Rao’s appointment to fill Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s old seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Some people found it surprising that we would oppose Rao, especially since she could be the first South Asian American woman to become a federal appellate judge. The Trump administration understands those optics. President Trump even chose to announce Rao’s nomination at last year’s White House Diwali function, flanked by Indian American appointees and the traditional diya lamp. But the values and principles of public servants, and their commitment to fundamental principles of equality and justice, should matter more than fake diversity and superficial representation. Rao might check off a diversity box on the surface, but her writings in college, her academic scholarship and her policy decisions as the current chief of the federal government’s regulatory office show that she will not be an open-minded, fair and impartial arbiter of justice.
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