Josh Hawley Announces His Committee Vote on Neomi Rao

Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley waves to the crowd after being introduced by President Donald Trump during a campaign rally Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Cape Girardeau, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley waves to the crowd after being introduced by President Donald Trump during a campaign rally Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Cape Girardeau, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

There’s been a bit of a stir surrounding the impending confirmation vote on Neomi Rao’s nomination to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals of late. As detailed here and here earlier this week, freshman Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo), who sits on the Judiciary Committee, expressed concerns regarding Rao’s nomination.  In particular, he raised questions regarding her stance on substantive due process and judicial activism.

This morning, Hawley released a statement signaling his intent to vote yes to move her nomination out of committee:

Senator Hawley Statement on DC Circuit Court Nominee Neomi Rao

WASHINGTON – Today Senator Josh Hawley released the following statement on judicial nominations and DC Circuit Court Nominee Neomi Rao:

“Missourians did not send me to Washington to conduct business as usual. They sent me here to change a broken system.

“I am committed to thoroughly vetting every judicial nominee who comes before the Senate Judiciary Committee, especially appellate nominees. That means asking nominees tough questions about how they will interpret the Constitution, how they think about precedent, and how they view the role of a judge. That’s my job as a Senator. I won’t apologize for doing it. There are some in this town who say ‘trust us,’ but past experience has shown that conservatives have been burned by that approach.

“Over the past few weeks I’ve done my due diligence on Ms. Rao’s record. I’ve examined her academic articles; I’ve talked to her past bosses and colleagues. I looked at her work as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. I questioned her during her nomination hearing and at a one-on-one meeting where we discussed her legal views. All of this helped inform my thinking, but I still had a number of concerns about Ms. Rao’s judicial philosophy, especially her views on substantive due process and judicial activism.

“Yesterday, I had a second one-on-one meeting with Ms. Rao, where we engaged in an hour-long substantive discussion of her legal background, her academic writings, and her approach to the law.

“In our discussion, Ms. Rao said she would interpret the Constitution according to its text, structure and history, not according to changing social and political understandings.

“She said the text of the Constitution is fixed and the meaning must follow that fixed text.

“Ms. Rao said she recognized a clear difference between common law adjudication, in which judges evolve the law according to changing social values, and constitutional adjudication, which is rooted in the text. Further, she rejected the idea of ‘common law constitutionalism.’

“She said she did not believe the concept of ‘dignity’ should be used to depart from the text and structure of the Constitution or to justify otherwise dubious legal doctrines.

“Finally, she emphasized that substantive due process finds no textual support in the Constitution.

“On the basis of these stated views, I will vote today to advance Ms. Rao’s nomination to the floor.”

Today’s hearing generated some interesting comments — from Hawley and others:

In the end, the committee vote — unsurprisingly — broke along party lines, with the twelve Republicans voting yes and ten Democrats voting no. Now Rao will move on to a vote before the full Senate.