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Biden appeals court nominee Delaney asks to withdraw after bipartisan opposition

Senate Judiciary Committee hold hearing for judicial nominees in Washington

By Jacqueline Thomsen

(Reuters) -Former New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney on Thursday asked U.S. President Joe Biden to withdraw his nomination to the 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals amid opposition from both Democrats and Republicans, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

In the letter to Biden, Delaney said he believes "it is appropriate for me to withdraw my name from consideration for this position to advance the important work of the federal judiciary."

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates in a statement called Delaney "deeply qualified," but said that Biden will work with New Hampshire's U.S. senators to find a new nominee for the vacancy. Delaney is the first of Biden's judicial nominees to fail due to lack of Democratic support.

Delaney's nomination to the Boston-based appeals court had been on the Senate Judiciary Committee's agenda for a month, including for Thursday, but was never called to a vote.

Some Democrats had raised concerns about a legal brief Delaney signed defending a New Hampshire law, since repealed, that required parents to be notified before their minor child has an abortion.

Delaney said in response to written questions from the committee that he had "extremely limited involvement" in the case, which was litigated while he was the state's deputy attorney general.

Abortion has been a top priority for Democrats considering judicial nominees after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last June that overturned the national right to abortion and returned regulation of the issue to the states.

Delaney also faced questions over his representation of a New Hampshire boarding school that was sued in connection with a sexual assault between students.

Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn said at the Senate Judiciary Committee's meeting on Thursday that she believed Delaney is "unfit for public service," citing his work for the school.

Senator Lindsey Graham, the judiciary panel's top Republican, also urged the Biden administration to withdraw Delaney's nomination.

The vast majority of the White House's court picks have seen unanimous Democratic support. Senator Joe Manchin on Wednesday became the first Democrat to vote against one of Biden's judicial nominees, opposing the nomination of Nancy Abudu for the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Abudu was confirmed to the court on Thursday on a 49-47 vote.

(Reporting by Jacqueline ThomsenEditing by Marguerita Choy and Bill Berkrot)