(March 2, 2019) — While the youngest member of the US House, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, was getting tons of criticism for her comments even before she took office, the youngest member of the US Senate stayed largely under the radar, at least until last week.
Senator Josh Hawley -- yes, the senator from our own state of Missouri who had been elected just two years earlier as Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley -- was best-known before his campaigns for office as the lawyer who successfully defended the Hobby Lobby lawsuit in which the US Supreme Court carved out a very narrow legal precedent recognizing that closely-held corporations whose stock is not traded publicly but held by a small group of owners, most of which are small family corporations but a few of which have grown to the size of Hobby Lobby, can exercise the religious values of their owners as an extension of the freedom of religion their owners have as individuals.
That's important. It means a small family-owned company whose owners agree that abortion is wrong can't be forced to pay for insurance policies which, under Obamacare, were required to pay for abortions.
With that background, it should surprise nobody that Hawley is raising concerns about Neomi Rao, who President Donald J. Trump has nominated to succeed Brett Kavanaugh on the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. That's a particularly important position because many lawsuits against federal agencies are filed in DC, and the judges of that court are often the last stop for a court case before it goes to the Supreme Court.
The attached articles document the issue. In brief, Hawley is concerned that Rao may turn into a "stealth appointment" in which a Republican president nominates a judge who is actually not conservative at all in legal philosophy.
It's happened way too many times before. Democrat-nominated judges almost never switch their political views to become conservatives once named to the bench, but Republican-nominated judges make the opposite switch to become liberals with some regularity.
Why is that?
Many reasons could be cited, among them the lack of a good vetting process.
That's what Hawley seeks to do during the confirmation process for Rao.
It's quite possible that Rao may turn out to be fine.
But Hawley is doing his job to ask questions.
Just because Donald J. Trump listened to The Heritage Foundation and is taking his judicial nominations largely based on their recommendations doesn't mean every Republican senator needs to step in line and do what Trump says.
Mistakes happen. Over many years, MANY mistakes **HAVE** happened with Republican nominees.
Asking hard questions now of Rao is far better than having the hard experience later of learning she isn't what she was thought to be.
That's why we have a Senate, and that's why we have Senators who confirm judges.