by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Donald Trump is reportedly considering Neomi Rao, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
The seat in question was vacated following Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Axios reports that former White House counsel Don McGahn took up Rao’s cause and urged the president to appoint her to the federal bench as he left the administration. Trump met with Rao about the vacancy in recent days, though it’s unclear if he is favorably disposed toward selecting her.
Other candidates thought to be in consideration include Kate Todd, former chief counsel of the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center and appellate lawyer Kannon Shanmugam.
Rao is a stalwart of the conservative legal establishment. She was a staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee and worked in the George W. Bush White House before joining the faculty of George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School — known for its libertarian streak — where she was founding director of the Center for the Study of the Administrative State.
She is also a Federalist Society favorite, delivering the opening address at the organization’s 2018 executive branch review conference.