Neomi Jehangir Rao is a Judge who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and is the second Indian American to hold that title, following Sri Srinivasan. As an American attorney and jurist, she is a member of the Republican party and an esteemed legal scholar. Highly respected by her colleagues, her nomination to the DC Appeals court made it clear that the Trump Administration was serious about regulatory reform.
Nominated by President Trump on January 23, 2019, she was preceded by Brett Kavanaugh, who now sits on the United States Supreme Court. Before her Appeals Court nomination, from 2017 to 2019, she served as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which is part of the White House Office of Management and Budget. In her role as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, she wrote the 2-1 majority opinion asking a lower court judge to drop a case against President Trump’s former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn. She also dissented in a 2–1 ruling to support a congressional subpoena for President Trump’s accounting records.
Ms. Rao was born in Detroit, Michigan on March 22, 1973. Her mother, Zerin Rao, and father, Jehangir Narioshang Rao, both Parsi physicians, raised her in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, although they were originally from India.
Ms. Rao attended Yale University and graduated cum laude in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts in ethics, politics and economics, and philosophy. Following her undergraduate work, Ms. Rao attended the University of Chicago Law School and worked as a comment editor on the University of Chicago Law Review. She was also invited to be executive editor of a symposium issue of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.
After graduating with highest honors in 1999 from Chicago Law with a Juris Doctor degree, Ms. Rao spent a year as a clerk for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Following that post, she clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from 2001 to 2002.
Ms. Rao joined British law firm Clifford Chance in London from 2002 to 2005, where she practiced public international law and arbitration. As a staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee, she was then invited to be associate counsel and special assistant to President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2006. Following this role, she became a professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, in 2006 – a post she would hold until 2019. She was also director and founder of the Center for the Study of the Administrative State from 2015 to 2017.
As a member of the Federalist Society, Ms. Rao also serves as a member of the Administrative Conference of the United States and the governing council of the American Bar Association’s Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, where she co-chairs the section’s regulatory policy committee.
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