Neomi Rao is the nominee to fill the vacancy created on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals created when Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court after a vicious campaign against him.

Rao’s Judiciary Committee hearing is Tuesday, February 5. Senate Democrats and liberal interest groups are trying to attack Rao in order to damage her prospects for a future Supreme Court nomination and to serve as a warning that if she is nominated, they will Bork and Kavanaugh her.

We covered Rao when Trump first disclosed she would be nominated, at which point it was clear that she would be targeted more so than other appeals court nominees:

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….

Who is Neomi Rao? Her Federalist Society Bio makes pretty clear she has impeccable conservative legal pedigree, including having clerked for Justice Thomas …. As Trumps “Regulatory Czar” she has promoted cutting regulations, as she explained in a Washington Post Op-Ed in October 2018…. 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.”

After her nomination, Democrats immediately spread falsehoods about her record and views, something we noted was part of an overall Democrat strategy to slow down the judicial nomination train:

Expect Dems not only to stall again, but also to try to dirty appeals court nominees who are potential future SCOTUS picks. We saw that with a deceptive hit job on Neomi Rao, nominated to fill Kavanaugh’s seat on the DC Circuit, by Buzzfeed. Rao also is on everyone’s short list of a potential replacement for Ginsburg.

Philip Klein at The Washington Examiner explains the preemptive attack on Rao:

On Monday, Buzzfeed published a story that dredged up some op-eds Rao wrote as an undergraduate at Yale in the 1990s. My colleague Quin Hillyer already posted on how the story distorted her work to portray it in the worst possible light. But it’s worth also looking at the process behind the article.

The story notes that it was the “the liberal advocacy group Alliance for Justice” that “first highlighted Rao’s college writings to BuzzFeed News.” In other words, the story was based on opposition research conducted by a liberal group that is tasked with fighting conservative judicial appointments. The story then quoted Nan Aron, the president of the Alliance for Justice. Buzzfeed’s report was then picked up by numerous other news outlets including Huffington PostGlamourCNN, and Newsweek.

With the hit pieces out in the media, Alliance for Justice then issued a press release titled, “Rao’s Writings are Disqualifying,” that claimed the organization had “learned” about the writings, citing media reports.

So, to sum up: A liberal group dumped oppo to the media, the media played it up, then the liberal group cited those media reports to proclaim the nominee disqualified.

Politico notes that Democrats have moved into high gear in their attacks on Rao as a preemptive strike against a future Supreme Court nomination, even though she is not on Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees (yet), Dems hope to draw blood from potential Trump SCOTUS pick:

When the conservative lawyer Neomi Rao appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, she’ll be interviewing for a job on the country’s second most powerful court.

But both her allies and enemies will be watching with something even bigger in mind: her viability as a future Supreme Court nominee.

Growing buzz on the right about Rao, a legal scholar and Trump administration regulatory official, has raised the stakes of her Tuesday confirmation hearing to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Republicans expect Democrats to contest Rao’s nomination with particular energy given what White House allies call the prospect that the 45-year-old former law professor could be on deck for a Supreme Court seat. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial said the left is intent on publicly “destroying” her.

The referenced Wall Street Journal Editorial reads, in part, Neomi Rao Gets Kavanaughed:

Remember Brett Kavanaugh’s high-school yearbook? Democrats pored over every word to try to disqualify him for the Supreme Court. Democrats are now employing a similar tactic, albeit advanced a couple of years to college, as they try to defeat Neomi Rao’s nomination for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

BuzzFeed News recently published a story about the writings of Ms. Rao, who is President Trump’s nominee for the seat vacated by Justice Kavanaugh….

But here comes BuzzFeed with the scoop of the year that Ms. Rao “wrote inflammatory op-eds in college.” Yes, apparently this is why some people get into journalism. The story is clearly an oppo-research dump, probably from the left-wing Alliance for Justice, which is trying to torpedo Ms. Rao.

Not long ago, before everyone’s entire life was politicized, college was a period of intellectual development. Students are young and often write with more passion than wisdom. If writing or remarks at age 22 are disqualifying for public life, then every Member of Congress might as well resign now.

Ms. Rao’s sins aren’t that she was inflammatory but that she is conservative. Ms. Rao took a dim view of racial preferences in a piece about the great African-American scholar, Thomas Sowell. She also wrote that progressives preach tolerance but too often don’t practice it. Q.E.D. Some of her writing is infelicitous or sophomoric, but none of it is relevant to how she might rule as a 45-year-old judge with adult life experience….

The irony is that the left is making Ms. Rao a political target precisely because she’s a woman of color. She’s the daughter of immigrants who landed in Detroit from India in a January 1972 snowstorm with little money and no winter coats, as she told Congress in 2017. The left is afraid she might someday be a Supreme Court nominee.

The Rao nomination will be a test of whether Republicans will permit a completely qualified nominee to be Borked and Kavanaughed, again.