Neomi Rao's Letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Clarifications and regrets.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Neomi Rao sent a letter today to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary detailing her views on the topic of sexual assault and rape. It reads in part:

"Sexual assault in all its forms, including date rape, is abhorrent. Responsibility for the rape is with the rapist. I believed that as a college student and continue to believe that today. No woman or man should be subject to sexual violence, regardless of the clothes they wear or how much alcohol they consumed. Non-consensual sexual activity is never appropriate or excusable. Victims should not be blamed for the terrible things that have happened to them. As a society we should create an environment where survivors feel empowered and comfortable coming forward. I am sorry for anything in my college writings to the contrary."

In my original post on this topic, I had stated that it would have been helpful had she corrected the record before it became politically salient. She writes in the letter:

"I have not written or spoken about issues of rape or sexual assault since college. If I were to address these issues now, I would have more empathy and perspective. Since I started law school, my research and writing has focused on the law, particularly constitutional law, separation of powers, and administrative law. My non-academic writing usually examines legal issues related to my scholarship or government service, not topics outside my expertise."

Thank you to the law prof who sent me the link!

NEXT: Professor at Augsburg University (Minnesota) Suspended for Classroom Discussion About Quoting the Word "Nigger"

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  1. “If I were to address these issues now, I would have more empathy and perspective.”

    What’s the point of this ritual abasement? She’s not going to persuade Democrats to support her.

    1. Just confirmation hearing Kabuki theater.

      1. Noh means Noh.

        1. OK, that one deserves a rim shot!

        2. “Noh means Noh.”

          You win the internet.

    2. The dark cloud of the War Against Women is forever hovering over Republicans but usually manages to land on Progressives and Democrats.

      “Concerned” Dems aren’t concerned about past sexual assaults by Dems

      Excerpts (but read the article):
      Senate Democrats say it’s unacceptable to have on the Supreme Court someone “credibly” accused of assaulting a woman 36 years ago, when he was in high school. Who among these “outraged” Senators has complained about serving with Democratic colleagues credibly accused of, and admitting to, assaulting women?

      Sen. Sherrod Brown’s ex-wife claimed in court documents that Brown threw her up against a wall and showed “physical violence and abusive nature.”

      Sen. Tom Carper admits he gave his ex-wife a black eye.

      Sen. Cory Booker has admitted groping a friend when he was in high school.

      And what about Sen. Mazie Hirono? She asks every male judicial nominee whether he has ever sexually harassed or assaulted anyone. But she accepted $1,000 from Sen. Carper’s PAC in June of this year.

      Keith Ellison, Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee stands very credibly accused of assaulting two women as an adult. Contemporaneous police records back up at least one of the assault claims. [and was recently elected as Minnesota’s Attorney General by Democrats].

      1. Don’t forget verified rapist Bill Clinton. Don’t forget his wife, who vilified his victims in public, knowing all along she was defaming rape victims and covering up for a known rapist.

        There’s some evidence he raped underage children in the Caribbean, but I don’t know how solid the evidence is.

        1. Don’t forget that the Alphabet Man is of course lying about all of this.

          It is true that Juanita Broaddrick has accused Clinton of rape; the problem is that she said multiple times, under oath, that it didn’t happen.

          1. Washington Post: Bill Clinton Rape Accuser’s Story Aired


            Quote:
            Juanita Broaddrick told her story to a national television audience last night, saying she did not tell authorities 21 years ago of her contention that Bill Clinton sexually assaulted her because “I just don’t think anyone would have believed me.”

            In a gripping account punctuated by sobs, the Arkansas woman told “Dateline NBC” that in her Little Rock hotel room, Clinton suddenly “turned me around and started kissing me, and that was a real shock. I first pushed him away. I just told him ‘no.’ . . . He tries to kiss me again. He starts biting on my lip. . . . And then he forced me down on the bed. I just was very frightened. I tried to get away from him. I told him ‘no.’ . . . He wouldn’t listen to me.”

    3. Feminism et al today occupies a similar space as christianity did in the middle ages. Aside from a few hardcore conservatives or exceptionally brave or free thinkers, you’re going to adapt or pretend to adapt some core tenets of the religion. Even if you’re on the side that nominally opposes it.

    4. I think the concern is actually that a few of the Republicans might defect if she doesn’t perform the ritual.

      1. Yeah, Collins and Murkowski are always a danger.

        Romney too.

        1. Historically, Collins is never a danger.

  2. would have been helpful had she corrected the record before it became politically salient.
    ////////////////

    It would be helpful if people didn’t change their views just because it becomes politically salient.

    1. Their positions changed?

      Democrats evolve their positions.

  3. I wish she would have the balls to say that homosexuals are mentally ill and belong in hospitals.

    1. Comrade Castro, you’re alive!

  4. She wasn’t wrong to begin with

    1. Not so far as bigots who believe decent treatment of gays undermines American society are concerned.

  5. Sad that she felt she had to repudiate her earlier, and quite respectable views.

    1. So how should Republican Senators vote?

      And who’s the RINO(s) here?

      1. I can’t see any reason here not to confirm her; Sure, she’d have been a better judicial candidate without the public confession, but the Republicans only have a three seat majority in the Senate, (It was more like a 5 seat majority on election night, as I recall, but the Democrats “found” enough votes to reverse a couple of those elections.) so it was probably smart of her to make it.

    2. In modern American, bigots need to stick together!

      1. It’s almost like they’re a minority!

      2. You’re still an asshole. Rao did nothing to abridge the rights of gays or women.

        1. She wrote that people who favored decent treatment of gays were undermining American society. I see no evidence her position has changed. That’s a stale-thinking bigot. A bigot palatable to current right-wingers, but a bigot nonetheless.

          Carry on, clingers. Just be sure to remember who lost the culture war, and govern your conduct accordingly.

          1. I’ve repeatedly pointed this out: She didn’t say that.

            She did say that organized gays were trying to undermine American culture, which is almost trivially true.

            1. It’s trivially true if you essentialize certain parts of American culture and elide others.

            2. Here is what she wrote, you bigoted fake-libertarian rube:

              Underneath their touchy-feely talk of tolerance, they seek
              to undermine American culture. . . . For example, homosexuals want to redefine marriage
              and parenthood . . .

              1. Yes, that’s what she wrote, not what you said above. It’s not my problem that your reading comprehension is so poor you think they mean the same thing.

  6. The was no reason to write the letter – except to appease those who were unable to comprehend her college writings

    1. Do goobers still wonder why they have lost the culture war?

      Do right-wing rubes expect to turn it around, or are they resigned to being vanquished and irrelevant as America continues to improve?

      Thank you.

      1. When Whittaker Chambers left the Communist movement for the conservative movement, he believed that he was defecting from the winning side and joining the losing side. But he left the Communists anyway.

        1. Kirkland, on the other hand, is the stuff Red Guards and Brownshirts are made of – willing to join the right side of history.

      2. your proved my point

      3. “Do goobers still wonder why they have lost the culture war?”

        Obviously it was the farting cows and lack of economic security for those unwilling to work. But don’t worry, Arthur and his girl are gonna get rid of those, along with cars and air travel, in about 10 years, right Arthur?

        1. I think it was the ignorance, the superstition, the bigotry, the selfishness, the insularity, and the petty authoritarianism.

  7. Her ritual self abasement will increase her chances of being nominated for and getting appointed to SCOTUS, in due course, and increases the chances that she’ll continue to cave to the PC mob if she gets there.

    The sentence from her apology that is particularly feeble is the one about how mentioning that it’s risky to get too drunk might upset victims of sexual assault. This is of course true – if you go up to such a victim and say – sorry you got raped, but it was damn silly of you to get that drunk.

    But Rao’s comment suggests that mentioning this obvious truth, which might actually help the occasional naive college student avoid getting raped, can never be mentioned, lest it upset victims.

    1. I recall, long ago, in a galaxy far away, attending a student political conference – totally dominated by lefties, then as now – when there was an organised debate about outrageous police behavior. There had been a small spate of actual sexual assaults (two or three) by what seemed to be the same guy, in and around university, and the police put out a statement suggesting that, for the time being, it would be wise for female students going out after dark, to be accompanied by a male student. This sexist, oppressive, patriarchal, fascist police statement was the outrageous police behavior in question and the motion condemned it in no uncertain terms. As did every speaker. Until a young black student stood up, propped up by her walking stick, and said that a couple of years back she had been the subject of a violent attack, and rape by a stranger, when walking home at night, which had left her in a state requiring a walking stick. She had found it a very unpleasant experience, and in her view was that the police advice was perfectly sensible. Naturally she was roundly booed for this heresy.

      1. “Shut up”, they explained.

        1. Come now, Smooth, did not this anecdote strike you as a little too smooth and convenient?

          1. “And everybody on the bus stood up and clapped.”

          2. By which you mean that I’m making it up.

            I confess that though the story is perfectly true, it’s not the whole truth. Because this is a serious forum, full of PC scolds, I omitted to mention that she was startlingly pretty.

            1. Maybe not made up, but rather too smooth to be unvarnished.

              Student political conference with an organized debate about announcements that women shouldn’t travel alone after dark.
              But not a very organized debate since every speaker was on the same side.

              Until a young, black handicapped woman told all these liberals what-for.
              Even including her handicap as part of her argument!
              Of course, no one listened to her, because narrative is stronger than identity politics for these particular liberals.

              1. It’s smooth because it was compelling and it has stayed with me (and I have told the tale before when it is apposite. But i haven’t had to embellish it by a comma.)

                Because in those days I was a lefty myself, and her little speech, and the insane reaction to it, opened my eyes to the gap between the slogans I had been imbibing without thinking, and reality. It made a big impression on me.

                As for your ignoble doubts about student conferences, clearly you have led a sheltered life. What were debated were motions proposed by attenders (or rather the leaders of their political factions.) There was plenty of antagonistic debate between the Trotskyites and the Stalinists about the precise theology of storming the administration buildings or government offices, or whether the Army shoud be abolished before the Air Force or vice versa. – there were serious doctrinal differences to debate here. But an emergency motion on a fascist police statement ? The debate involves a competition – who can use the floweriest language to condemn the police ? And then this black girl with a stick pops up and introduces a dose of reality. No wonder she was booed.

                One reason why she made a big impression on me – apart from being pretty – was her courage. Took plenty of guts to stand up in a hall of a thousand people and go against the crowd.

                1. I’m all about good faith, but I remain skeptical. I cannot contradict you, but this just beggars belief.

                  I have some experience with take Back the Night, which has been all about this issue from the left since the 1970s and taking issue with asking women not to go out alone as fascist? Not a whiff of that from what I saw on multiple campuses through 2007.

                  1. There was a similar situation at the Univ of WA in, gawd, late 90’s? Early aughts? Not the specific meeting, but the same fact pattern: a handful of coeds attacked, the univ cops advised not walking the secluded parts of campus alone at night, and people (I suspect a small but vocal minority) raising the same objections Mr. Moore cites.

                    Experience has led me to be chary of assuming other people are necessarily liars because their experiences aren’t congruent with mine. It’s a big world, with a lot of differing experiences. That’s not to say people don’t lie, but I’ve had stuff I was loath to believe verified often enough to be careful.

                    1. I know I know, I always say take things in good faith.
                      But the convenience – specifically the woman, as well as the nature of the political meeting – just has my antenna jumping.

                      Not worth arguing, because neither of us has the data to convince the other.

                  2. As I said, this was not only a long time ago, but in a galaxy far away, where the Trots were not the pale pink liberals you may be familiar with.

                    Article of Faith Number 1 – the police are fascist by definition. They don’t have to do anything to earn the title. But if they insist on putting out statements that underline their commitment to the patriarchy, then well what can you say ?

                    I confess that I was weak on the precise doctrine at the time, never mind now, but I think the issue is a famiiar one in ideological circles – the fact that unlike GOP politicians and judicial nominees, reality will not bow the knee to doctrine. When ideology and reality clash, one must give way, and if you’re an ideologue, it’s not going to be your ideology.

                    It IS unfair not to mention outrageous that a young female student should be advised that she might not be able to walk about freely at night without risk, when there are actual rapists about. And worse, that to ask a male to escort her is a good idea. Before long, the police will be telllng the fish they need bicycles.

                    Reality can suck, and it pokes horrible holes in doctrine. Which is why ideologues go to such absurd lengths to deny it. Why you find this hard to credit I can’t imagine. Look around.

                    1. What were you doing on a liberal-libertarian campus, Lee Moore, rather than a conservative-controlled campus?

                      Are you one of these right-wingers who loves to criticize strong schools, and claim they should emulate fourth-tier right-wing goober factories, but are unwilling to attend or send children to the conservative campuses because they suck?

      2. A female friend of mine, who I dated briefly, once asked me to walk her…to a frat party, so she’d be safe on the way.

        I had no idea I was dealing with an oppressive patriarcical rape culture enabler.

        1. Might be a clue this isn’t actually what feminists believe.

          1. Apparently, you don’t know very many feminists.

            1. Most of the women I know call themselves feminists, and a goodly amount of the men. Not all feminists are writers for Jezebel.

              None of the women I know hesitate about getting a guy to walk them somewhere when it’s unsafe. They look forward to a time where men stop being so rapey so it’s not an issue, and work towards that, but I don’t know any that think what Krayt talks about is enabling.

              And, of course, Lee Moore’s story has a few red flags in it itself.

              1. My campus had a situation this last fall where a girl was assaulted by two men in the dorm. Those men were not students and were not supposed to be in the dorm. University police issued a statement urging students (without specifying women) not to let unknown people into places they aren’t supposed to be, mostly as a safety measure. It exploded into an issue where the university was accused of victim blaming and normalizing rape culture.

                1. An anecdote without a black handicapped woman quietly telling the libs what-for? I don’t know if I can believe that…

                  I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, nor that campuses can’t get silly (and this seems mega silly to me) but,

                  1) this is not universal, and I’m not sure it’s even much of a trend without more data. To counter-anecdote, I left school in 2015 and similar security bulletins didn’t merit a peep at GWU. Nor with the fewer but still present security alerts at quite liberal American University back in 2007.

                  2) outrage over an announcement is not the same as outrage over a dude walking a girl to her car so she stays safe.

                  1. They weren’t libs. They were mostly Trotskyists, Stalinism having gone a little out of fashion.

                    1. I know Trots. I don’t believe they have a big brief on gender issues, though.

                    2. I would have guessed that you would patronize a solidly conservative campus, such as Hillsdale, or Liberty, or Regent, or Grove City, or Ouachita Baptist. Why was a proper right-wing school of the type you would support and patronize conducting a campus event featuring homogeneous liberal voices?

                    3. I would have guessed that you would patronize a solidly conservative campus, such as Hillsdale, or Liberty, or Regent, or Grove City, or Ouachita Baptist. Why was a proper right-wing school of the type you would support and patronize conducting a campus event featuring homogeneous liberal voices?

              2. “They look forward to a time where men stop being so rapey ”

                You do realize, I hope, that the National Crime Victimization Surveys find that rape rates have declined by some 80% over the past 3-4 decades? Including more than a 60% decline from 1994 through 2010 alone?

                If this were changes in cancer rates, people would be celebrating on rooftops. But all we hear about is a supposed current “rape culture.”

                OVER 60 PERCENT DECLINE IN SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST FEMALES FROM 1995 TO 2010

        2. No man should ever oblige a woman’s request to walk them somewhere unsafe. That would be perpetuating rape culture. Instead, the man should walk the same route 10 minutes ahead of the woman, demanding that the men along the route not rape her.

  8. “it would have been helpful had she corrected the record before it became politically salient”

    The newbie wants adults to revisit articles/columns they wrote in college when they were 20. Just because they included now verboten thoughts.

    Beyond dumb.

    1. Oddly enough, Bob, you’re the first one to point this out. The Overton Window has been shifted.

    2. Manta is simply disagreeing with what Rao wrote in college. The “now verboten thoughts” is entirely your mischaracterization.

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