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Michael Delaney shown during a speaking engagement
Sources say Michael Delaney’s nomination lacked the needed votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP file photo)

Appeals court nominee withdraws in defeat for Biden

WASHINGTON — In a rare judicial defeat for President Joe Biden, Michael Delaney is withdrawing his nomination for the Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to a letter he sent to the White House on Thursday.

“At this time, I believe it is appropriate for me to withdraw my name from consideration for this position to advance the important work of the federal judiciary,” he wrote in the letter, obtained by The Associated Press.

In a statement, White House spokesman Andrew Bates said the White House would consult with New Hampshire’s two senators, Democrats Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, to find a new nominee. Both had strongly supported Delaney.

“President Biden put forward a deeply qualified nominee, with a long and distinguished career in public service,” Bates said.

Delaney’s nomination lacked the needed votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee, said two people familiar with the confirmation process who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal dynamics.

Democrats’ inability to secure the necessary votes both in the committee and on the floor is partly due to concerns over a legal brief on abortion that Delaney signed as deputy attorney general in New Hampshire. The brief defended a parental notification law in the state.

Delaney also faced scrutiny of his representation of St. Paul’s School, a private boarding school in New Hampshire that was sued in connection with a sexual assault.

Delaney said in written testimony to senators that he did not write the 2005 abortion brief and otherwise had “extremely limited involvement” in the case that was brought while he was deputy attorney general in New Hampshire. But he was never able to gain the support of enough Democrats to win approval in the committee, on which Democrats have a narrow one-vote margin.

Delaney’s nomination was held up for months as California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was absent and Democrats could not move any party-line nominees through the committee. But it became clear last week, upon Feinstein’s return, that Delaney did not have enough Democratic votes to move forward.

The committee chairman, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., declined to hold a vote on Delaney’s nomination as the panel considered other nominees. He then skipped over Delaney again this week when the committee met on Thursday.

After last week’s meeting, Durbin said the votes weren’t yet there.

“It wasn’t the right moment,” Durbin said last week of Delaney. “We’ll see.”

Delaney would be the first of Biden’s judicial nominees to fail due to a clear lack of support from the full Senate. The White House has continued to back him despite the scrutiny, along with Shaheen and Hassan.

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