President Joe Biden is taking heat, justifiably, over his crummy nominee to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, Michael Delaney.
Delaney built a legal practice defending institutions embroiled in sexual misconduct scandals. He represented the elite St. Paul's School in a 2016 civil lawsuit alleging the school fostered a culture of sexual harassment that led to the statutory rape of then-15-year-old Chessy Prout. In the course of the proceedings, Delaney opposed the Prout family's request to preserve their daughter's anonymity.
Most Democrats are keeping their mouths shut—9 of the 11 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee didn't even show up for Delaney's hearing last month before the committee. But New Hampshire Democratic senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen have lauded his "meaningful service to our communities" and "commitment to justice." Proving that politicians really will say anything, seven years ago Shaheen was praising Prout as a "remarkable, brave young woman" and thanking her for speaking out.
But we're pleased some Democrats may be coming around to our long-held view that lawyers for the scum of the earth should be held accountable for the scummy clients they choose to represent. That seemed to be the thrust of the lengthy list of written questions Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) had for Delaney. She wanted to know just how many educational institutions and youth organizations he has represented in "instances of misconduct experienced by students." (The answer: 33.) She had questions about his tactics, too.
Not two decades ago, Democrats like Feinstein were aghast when conservatives argued that lawyers like Neal Katyal, who had volunteered his services to al Qaeda detainees, were unfit to serve in the Justice Department. Overnight, every Democrat in the land was dusting off the history books to remind the unwashed masses about John Adams and the Boston Massacre and the nobility of providing legal representation to America's enemies.
Our adversarial system of justice may guarantee the accused a vigorous defense, but it does not guarantee the attorneys who represent terrorists, perverts, or the wealthy institutions that harbor them the opportunity to parlay their work into plum government posts. Delaney is no exception, and we look forward to the Biden administration's withdrawal of his nomination.