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U.S. Senate confirms Hamilton for 7th Circuit

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U.S. District Judge David F. Hamilton is the newest jurist on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

After a half hour of final debate starting at 2 p.m., the U.S. Senate voted within an hour to confirm Judge Hamilton, who was President Barack Obama's first judicial pick.

He has served the Southern District of Indiana bench for 15 years and currently serves as chief judge. He succeeds Circuit Judge Kenneth Ripple, who took senior status in September 2008.

"We're so very happy for our colleague that this long process has finally ended," said Judge Sarah Evans Barker in Indianapolis, "and of course, that it's culminated in his appointment. We have always had complete confidence in his abilities, and that's never waived. We'll miss his collegiality on our court here, but we'll look forward to working with him at the Court of Appeals level."

Today's final vote of 59-39 capped an eight-month nomination process that had been prevented from reaching the floor for debate since June when Judge Hamilton survived the Senate Judiciary Committee by a partisan vote. On Tuesday, 70 percent of the Senate crushed a judicial filibuster threat by some conservative senators, allowing the controversial nomination to finally proceed to an up-or-down vote.

Sen. Jeffrey Sessions, R-Ala., the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opposed Judge Hamilton's nomination because of concerns about his record and work history, which they labeled as "liberal" and evidence of a "judicial activist." Sessions pushed debate because the judge was the president's first pick and sets the stage for how both parties can proceed on future judicial nominations.

But several senators - including Indiana's senators, Republican Richard Lugar and Democrat Evan Bayh - defended Judge Hamilton and called those accusations unfounded, saying the judge is well qualified for the appellate bench.

Speaking on Judge Hamilton's behalf from the Senate floor earlier this week, Bayh called the nomination delays that had stopped the judge from getting a vote since summer a "sad state of our judicial nominating process."

"I know first hand (Judge Hamilton) is a highly capable lawyer who understands the limited role of the federal judiciary," he said.

A formal swearing in will likely occur in early 2010, and the judge will be able to begin his appellate duties immediately after the president signs his commission document. But as has happened in the past with other judges, the chief Circuit judge will likely re-designate him to the District Court in a limited capacity in order to tie up his caseload and assist until a successor is nominated and confirmed. Bayh's office has not publicly released any candidates' names and the White House does not have a timeline for when any judicial nomination might be announced.

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  1. Major social engineering imposed by judicial order well in advance of democratic change, has been the story of the whole post ww2 period. Contraception, desegregation, abortion, gay marriage: all rammed down the throats of Americans who didn't vote to change existing laws on any such thing, by the unelected lifetime tenure Supreme court heirarchs. Maybe people came to accept those things once imposed upon them, but, that's accommodation not acceptance; and surely not democracy. So let's quit lying to the kids telling them this is a democracy. Some sort of oligarchy, but no democracy that's for sure, and it never was. A bourgeois republic from day one.

  2. JD Massur, yes, brings to mind a similar stand at a Texas Mission in 1836. Or Vladivostok in 1918. As you seemingly gloat, to the victors go the spoils ... let the looting begin, right?

  3. I always wondered why high fence deer hunting was frowned upon? I guess you need to keep the population steady. If you don't, no one can enjoy hunting! Thanks for the post! Fence

  4. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  5. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

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