The Senate is currently debating Judge David Hamilton’s nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. For live updates you can follow Nan Aron on twitter.
Hamilton, President Obama’s first judicial nominee, was nominated on March 17, and voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 4, with a 12-7 vote along party lines.
Judge Hamilton has an exemplary record in the law and sterling credentials. The American Bar Association gave Judge Hamilton its highest rating of well-qualified.
Judge Hamilton has the backing of both his home state senators, Republican Richard Lugar and Democrat Evan Bayh. Senator Lugar stated he is “enthusiastically” supporting Hamilton’s elevation, while Senator Bayh praised the President for selecting nominees that “Republicans and Democrats can work together” on.
Indiana conservatives who actually know him think he’s a stellar choice.
Geoffrey Slaughter, President of the Indianapolis chapter of the Federalist Society, praised Hamilton’s nomination observing, “I regard Judge Hamilton as an excellent jurist with a first rate intellect . . . His judicial philosophy is well within the mainstream.”
Every Senate Republican signed a letter on March 4, 2009, vowing to block President Obama’s nominees. Since then, the Republicans have carried out that threat. Only two circuit court judges have been confirmed by the Senate, and both were subjected to unnecessary, time-consuming, procedural delays – even though the nominees were approved by wide margins (Lynch 94-3, Davis 72-16).
Resorting to the same old playbook of partisan politics, Republicans are obstructing the judicial nomination process as a last-ditch effort to maintain their hold over the judiciary and halt a return to a balance of power. They are also using attacks on Judge Hamilton as an opportunity to keep their base engaged.
Senator Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter on October 30, asking his colleagues to oppose Judge Hamilton’s nomination and signaling his intention to filibuster.
Sessions suggested that Hamilton has “drive[n] a political agenda,” while citing rulings and mischaracterizing the record on decisions Judge Hamilton issued on religious freedom, criminal law, and a woman’s right to choose.