Neuberger, a Republican attorney from The Neuberger Firm, published his first position paper in a press release Monday morning, calling for statutory reforms that he said would allow more women and minorities to present harassment cases to juries. Neuberger is the only Republican to publicly say that he is considering a bid next year to succeed Matt Denn as the state’s top law enforcement official.
In the release, Neuberger floated proposed changes to the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act, which he said gives judges too much say on whether harassment cases should proceed. And he called on his potential opponents, Tim Mullaney and state Rep. Sean Lynn, D-Dover, to a public debate on the issue, which has garnered national attention in recent weeks.
“Today, I call on Tim Mullaney Sr. and Sean Lynn to participate in a public debate on the widespread sexual harassment of women in the workplace and also the racial harassment of minorities at work, which are allowed under our inadequate Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act,” Neuberger said.
The statement was the latest sign that Neuberger is seriously considering a campaign to replace Denn, who announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election in 2018. The open race is expected to attract the interest of big-name attorneys from both political parties.
Former AG and U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III and Kathy Jennings, who served as a top prosecutor at the Delaware Department of Justice, are both rumored to be mulling a run on the Democratic side. Meanwhile, state Republicans, who express confidence that they can take the seat, have interviewed about a dozen would-be candidates to gauge their electoral potential.
However, only Mullaney, a former U.S. marshal and DOJ chief of staff, has made his campaign official. Lynn, an attorney and progressive lawmaker known for his support of comprehensive criminal justice reform, has confirmed that he is considering a bid, though he has not yet committed to running.
Mullaney declined Neuberger’s invitation to debate on Monday, saying in an emailed statement: “At this point, I am not debating anyone from the Republican Party.”
In his position paper, Neuberger said he favored departing from federal law, which bars a jury from hearing harassment or discrimination claims, unless if a judge determines them to be “severe” or “pervasive.” The Delaware statute, he said, should be amended to reject the federal doctrine and ensure that the law is “generously and liberally construed.”
“It is time for our General Assembly to level the playing field for women and minorities and to make it clear under Delaware law that it is up to a jury, and not a judge, to say when such facts constitute harassment,” Neuberger said.
“Delaware should be in the forefront in protecting women and minorities here and not just tagging along with restrictive and unfair judicial constructs which allow women to be fondled and abused, and minorities to be slurred.”
Mullaney added that Delaware does not hesitate to enforce criminal statutes covering sexual and racial harassment, and he emphasized that he was committed to fighting harassment “in all forms.”
Mullaney also responded to his potential opponent with a challenge of his own.
“If Tom Neuberger or any Republican were serious about stopping the ‘sexual monsters’ he talks about,” Mullaney said, “he would call on his fellow Republicans to condemn the leader of their party, Donald Trump, who in [his] own words has made his views about how women should be treated quite clear.”
Lynn did not respond to calls on Monday seeking comment for this story.
Neuberger was not available for additional comment Monday afternoon. His next position paper is expected to be released in two weeks.