At a White House celebration of the Indian holiday Diwali, Trump indicated that the next day he would be nominating Neomi Rao to fill the seat vacated by Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals:

Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Neomi Rao. Hi, Neomi. I won’t — I won’t say today that I just nominated Neomi to be on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the seat of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. (Applause.) So that could be a big story. (Applause.) We were going to announce that tomorrow — (laughter) — and I said, “You know, here we are, Neomi, we’re never going to do better than this right?” (Laughter.) I thought it was an appropriate place. So, we’re 24 hours early, but she’s going to be fantastic. Great person.

Who is Neomi Rao? Her Federalist Society Bio makes pretty clear she has impeccable conservative legal pedigree, including having clerked for Justice Thomas:

Neomi Rao is the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which is an office in OMB focused on regulatory review. Administrator Rao is a former professor of structural constitutional law, administrative law, and legislation and statutory interpretation at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. Administrator Rao founded the Law School’s Center for the Study of the Administrative State and focused her scholarship on the political and constitutional accountability of administrative agencies and the role of Congress. Additionally, Administrator Rao’s comparative analysis of the use of dignity in constitutional law has been widely cited in the United States and abroad. She also served as a Member of the Administrative Conference of the United States and on the Governing Council of the ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice.

Prior to joining the Law School, Administrator Rao served in all three branches of government. She served as Associate Counsel and Special Assistant to President George W. Bush. Administrator Rao also served as counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, where she was responsible for judicial nominations and constitutional law issues. In between government service, Administrator Rao practiced in the London office of Clifford Chance LLP, specializing in international law and commercial arbitration. After receiving a B.A. from Yale University and Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago, Administrator Rao clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and for Justice Clarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court.

As Trumps “Regulatory Czar” she has promoted cutting regulations, as she explained in a Washington Post Op-Ed in October 2018:

The administration’s regulatory reform efforts continue to accelerate, as new data released by the administration Wednesday on regulatory reform in 2018 show. As this fall’s unified regulatory agenda demonstrates, we’re projecting even more reform in 2019.

Over the past two years, federal agencies have reduced regulatory costs by $23 billion and eliminated hundreds of burdensome regulations, creating opportunities for economic growth and development. This represents a fundamental change in the direction of the administrative state, which, with few exceptions, has remained unchecked for decades. The Obama administration imposed more than $245 billion in regulatory costs on American businesses and families during its first two years….

Our commitment to these good regulatory practices has contributed to the incredible economic boom since President Trump took office. Across America, businesses and families are experiencing greater economic freedom, and we project even more significant results in the coming year.

Conservative legal scholar Jonathan Adler is thrilled with her nomination:

As is Hugh Hewitt:

In perhaps the best sign, Buzzfeed notes that liberals are not happy:

Criticism from liberal advocacy groups poured in after Trump announced Rao’s nomination, focusing on her record on deregulation.

“Rao has never seen a regulation she didn’t hate, and as a judge would dismantle 40 years of environmental and social progress,” Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “Her confirmation would be the most damaging and regressive yet by Trump after Kavanaugh and Gorsuch.”

Sounds like another solid Trump judicial nomination. Who knows, if Trump is reelected, Rao could be in line for a SCOTUS spot once she has a few years on the bench.