Dems Punt Confirmation Vote on Embattled Biden Judicial Nominee

Vote on Michael Delaney's nomination canceled as Dems struggle with sidelined senators

Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats in 2022 / Getty Images
March 15, 2023

Senate Democrats punted late Tuesday evening on a confirmation hearing for President Joe Biden's judicial nominee Michael Delaney, who has faced an onslaught of criticism for his successful push to unmask an underage sexual assault victim.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) canceled a committee hearing set for Thursday at which Delaney's nomination was slated as the top agenda item, according to an updated committee schedule. Sources say the hearing was canceled on Tuesday evening. The cancellation means no Judiciary Committee business will be done this week, leaving Delaney's nomination to the First Circuit in limbo.

Nominated in January, Delaney has become one of Biden's most controversial nominees. Delaney faces opposition from Republicans and women's rights advocates for motioning to strip a minor sexual assault victim of anonymity while he served as an attorney for New Hampshire's St. Paul's School. The victim, Chessy Prout, and her family have vocally opposed his nomination.

But with two Democratic senators, including California's Dianne Feinstein, who is on the Judiciary Committee and has raised concerns about Delaney's nomination, recovering from illness, Senate Judiciary work has ground to a halt. Democrats only hold a one-seat majority on the committee, and Republicans appear unified in voting down Delaney.

Three left-wing groups filed a memo over the weekend expressing their "grave concerns" about Delaney's nomination. The National Women's Law Center, People for the American Way, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights called on senators to "further examine" Delaney's record.

"With continued efforts in the courts to narrow and overturn fundamental and civil rights, we must ensure only nominees who understand the impact of the law on and the need to protect the rights of women, girls, people of color, LGBTQI+ people, pregnant and parenting individuals, and other communities marginalized in our society are confirmed to the federal bench," the groups said. "At a time when survivors are shamed for exercising their civil rights to be free from sex discrimination in education, it is essential that we call out the actions of those in power who seek  to minimize the trauma, needs, and lived experiences of survivors."

New Hampshire Democratic senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen are leading the fight to confirm Delaney. The pair have praised his record on multiple occasions and in January introduced him to the Senate Judiciary Committee, lauding his "commitment to justice."

Members of the Prout family, who have appeared at every Judiciary Committee meeting since the president nominated Delaney, have worked tirelessly to kill his nomination. In a Saturday statement, Chessy Prout's father said that "Delaney used the 'totality of his career,' his accumulated knowledge of victim trauma, and weaponized that knowledge and experience to intimidate a minor victim of sexual assault into silence." Earlier this month, Chessy Prout wrote an op-ed earlier this month titled "I know Michael Delaney. After what he did, he doesn't deserve to be a judge."