As readers may recall, Judge Neomi Rao’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals hit a snag when Senator Josh Hawley questioned her commitment to opposing “substantive due process” and whether her personal political views leaned toward being pro-choice. After significant pressure from conservative activists, the Trump administration, and, according to reports, personal reassurances from Rao’s former boss Justice Clarence Thomas regarding her conservative bona fides, Hawley relented and Rao was confirmed.
Jessie Liu, nominated to be associate attorney general, wasn’t so lucky. Opposition from Utah Senator Mike Lee killed her nomination, she withdrew on Friday.
According to his spokesman, Lee opposed Jessie Liu’s nomination to be associate attorney general because of “questions about her record on life issues.” The only basis provided for concluding that Liu might be pro-choice is Liu’s prior affiliation with the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), which opposed Sam Alito’s 2005 nomination to the Supreme Court based in part on concerns about reproductive rights. NAWL is a professional development organization, whose slogan is “Empowering Women in the Legal Profession Since 1899.” Any statements it makes related to abortion are tangential to its mission. Liu said that she played no role in the decision to oppose Alito’s nomination, and no one contradicted her assertion.