President Donald Trump will nominate Neomi Rao, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Speaking at the White House’s Diwali celebration Tuesday, the president said he was slated to make the announcement on Wednesday, but was so delighted by the event he spontaneously decided to reveal Rao’s pending nomination. Diwali is a Hindu religious festival and Rao is Indian-American.
“I just nominated Neomi to be on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the seat of Justice Brett Kavanaugh,” Trump said. “We were going to announce that tomorrow, then I said, ‘You know, here we are, Neomi, we’re never going to do better than this right?’”
“Thank you very much, Mr. President, for the confidence you’ve shown in me,” Rao replied. “I greatly appreciate it.”
Rao, the daughter of Indian immigrants, has served as the Trump administration’s deregulatory czar since 2017, and is widely considered a leading authority on agency law. Before re-entering the White House, she founded and led the Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, increasingly a bastion of conservative jurisprudence.
She crowed about the administration’s deregulatory successes in a Washington Post op-ed on Oct. 21.
“The benefits of deregulation are felt far and wide, from lower consumer prices to more jobs and, in the long run, improvements to quality of life from access to innovative products and services,” Rao wrote. “Eliminating unnecessary and duplicative red tape has helped the Trump administration achieve the lowest unemployment rates in nearly 50 years and dramatic economic growth for our country.”
The center seeks to advance and curate debates over the scope of federal regulatory authority, increasingly a priority for conservative legal scholars who fear agency power has grown such that the regulatory bureaucracy is now its own unaccountable branch of government.
According to The Associated Press, Rao is the seventh law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas whom Trump has nominated to the federal bench.
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