Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) defended a judicial nominee over articles she wrote in the 1990s blaming women for sexual assault.
Neomi Rao, whom President Donald Trump nominated to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, wrote in a 1994 op-ed for The Yale Herald that “a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober.”
“If she drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of her choice,” Rao said at the time.
In her Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, she said she regretted writing the piece. But Cruz characterized her comments as “very good advice.”
“I have two daughters,” he said. “I certainly intend to give them the advice not to drink to excess. And it is unquestionably true that any student that drinks to the points of getting drunk and losing control risks being a victim, risks being vulnerable.”
Rao faces an uphill battle for the seat, and not just because of her comments on date rape. Critics have also questioned remarks she made about LGBT rights, race and climate change, as well as her efforts to help the Trump administration dismantle key regulations. As the head of the federal Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, she has helped weaken or kill rules surrounding campus sexual assault, fair housing and climate change.
Her record on sexual assault will no doubt evoke comparisons to her predecessor Kavanaugh, whose Supreme Court nomination was nearly scuttled after he was accused of sexual assaulting Christine Blasey Ford decades ago while drunk. Republicans vigorously defended him by downplaying his extensive history of heavy drinking and questioning her account.