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Rare second hearing set for judge's nomination

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In an unusual move, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a second judicial nomination hearing next week for U.S. District Judge David F. Hamilton, who's being considered for a seat on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

That nomination hearing is set for 2 p.m. April 29 and is expected to be broadcast live online.

A first hearing happened April 1 just prior to the Senate's two-week break, and the judge answered questions about his 14 years of experience on the federal bench. But some Republicans didn't attend and effectively boycotted the hearing, not necessarily because of any opposition to Judge Hamilton's nomination but because they objected to the "unreasonable pace" at which the panel was vetting what would be the new president's first federal judicial pick.

President Barack Obama nominated Judge Hamilton for the post on March 17, and the first hearing was set about a week later. If he gets approval from committee members, the judge would still need confirmation by the full Senate. If confirmed, he would replace Judge Kenneth Ripple who took senior status in September 2008.

Republican senators have said lawmakers haven't been given enough time to prepare for the hearing. Specifically, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., praised Judge Hamilton's academic and judicial records and said he doesn't necessarily disagree with any of the judge's decisions, but he said more time was needed to review the record - 1,150 written opinions that include 9,500 pages of documents from the judge's tenure on the bench.

Committee Chair Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., and the Democrat-controlled administration have said they're moving quickly in order to foster a bipartisan spirit and set a tone different from the past, when judicial nominations took much longer.

"It has been four weeks since Judge Hamilton first appeared before the committee, and I am disappointed that committee Republicans have yet to ask a single question of this nominee," Leahy said in a statement released Tuesday. "After Judge Hamilton appears again before the committee, I hope Republican members will not further delay our consideration of this qualified judicial nominee."

Judge Hamilton is invited to testify at this second hearing, according to Leahy's statement. The committee plans to also consider the nominations of two others: Thomas E. Perez for assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, and Andre Davis for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The hearing will be broadcast live online at the committee's nomination hearing page, and the most current coverage of the nomination process can be found at the Indiana Lawyer Web site at www.theindianalawyer.com.

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