Sen. Cory Booker tried to trap President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Judge Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday and ended up embarrassing himself.
During the confirmation hearing, Booker pressed Neomi Rao over her stances on LGBT issues, specifically on whether she has ever hired any LGBT law clerks.
“Have you ever had any LGBTQ law clerks?” Booker asked.
“Senator, I’ve yet to be a judge,” Rao responded. “I don’t have law clerks.”
Fox News noted that the “American Bar Association said Monday it has deemed Rao ‘well-qualified’ for the appeals court.”
Partial transcript of the exchange between Booker and Rao:
SEN. CORY BOOKER: Are gay relationships, in your opinion, immoral?
NEOMI RAO: Um, senator, I’m not sure the relevance of that.
BOOKER: I think it is relevant to your opinion. Do you think African American relationships are immoral? Do you think gay relationships are immoral?
RAO: No. I do not.
BOOKER: You do not.
Do you believe they are a sin?
RAO: Senator, my personal views on any of these subjects are things I would put to one side, and I would faithfully follow precedent–
BOOKER: So you’re not willing to say here whether you believe it is sinful for two men to be married — you’re not willing to comment on that?
RAO: I’m sorry.
BOOKER: What, I didn’t hear your response.
RAO: My response is that these personal views are ones that I would put to one side. Whatever my personal views are on the subject, I would faithfully follow the precedent of the Supreme Court.
BOOKER: Have you ever had an LGBTQ law clerk?
RAO: I have not been a judge so I don’t have any law clerks
BOOKER: I’m sorry, someone working for you?
RAO: Um, 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.
The Federalist Society offered the following background information on Rao:
Neomi Rao is the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which is an office in OMB focused on regulatory review. Administrator Rao is a former professor of structural constitutional law, administrative law, and legislation and statutory interpretation at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. Administrator Rao founded the Law School’s Center for the Study of the Administrative State and focused her scholarship on the political and constitutional accountability of administrative agencies and the role of Congress. Additionally, Administrator Rao’s comparative analysis of the use of dignity in constitutional law has been widely cited in the United States and abroad. She also served as a Member of the Administrative Conference of the United States and on the Governing Council of the ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice.
Prior to joining the Law School, Administrator Rao served in all three branches of government. She served as Associate Counsel and Special Assistant to President George W. Bush. Administrator Rao also served as counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, where she was responsible for judicial nominations and constitutional law issues. In between government service, Administrator Rao practiced in the London office of Clifford Chance LLP, specializing in international law and commercial arbitration. After receiving a B.A. from Yale University and Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago, Administrator Rao clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and for Justice Clarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court.