UPDATE: Hamilton vote set for Thursday

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2009
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The full U.S. Senate will hold a roll call vote at 2:30 p.m. Thursday on an Indianapolis judge's controversial nomination, deciding whether U.S. Judge David F. Hamilton will move up to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Eight months after President Barack Obama chose him, and five months after getting through the Senate Judiciary Committee on a partisan vote, Judge Hamilton will learn whether he'll be elevated to the appellate bench from the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, where he currently serves as chief judge and has been a judge for 15 years.

About 70 percent of the Senate voted Tuesday afternoon to crush a judicial filibuster threat from some conservative Republican senators, meaning a final vote could proceed on President Barack Obama's first judicial pick. The 5 p.m. vote was 70-29, with 10 Republicans and two Independents crossing the partisan aisle to cut off debate. A procedural 30 hours of debate time followed, but on Wednesday less than an hour was devoted to discussing the judge's nomination overall as the day and evening's business went on.

Earlier in the week, both of Indiana's senators - Republican Richard Lugar and Democrat Evan Bayh - spoke in favor of Judge Hamilton and highlighted their thoughts that he's well qualified for the appellate bench.

But on Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. and a Senate Judiciary Committee member, was the most dramatic in his opposition, at times pointing his finger in the air and shouting "activist" or "ignored" in referencing what he thought of the judge's rulings and his adherence to precedent. The senator repeatedly accused Judge Hamilton of breaching his judicial oath and disrespecting the rule of law by using his own personal bias and prejudices to "do what he wants" instead of following the U.S. Constitution.

"He embraces a liberal activist philosophy, and has implemented that philosophy in his decisions," Coburn said. "That's the problem with activist judges. They see no limits; they take a personal bias and use that bias to make their own decisions rather than looking at the Constitution."

Sen. Jeffrey Sessions, R-Ala., the ranking party member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opposed the cloture motion and voiced concerns about Judge Hamilton's record and work history, saying it's important to continue debate on Judge Hamilton because he was the president's first pick and will set the stage for how both parties can proceed on future judicial nominations.

Speaking Wednesday evening from the Senate floor, Sessions reiterated those points and added that no debate had been offered by Democrats on Judge Hamilton's nomination and that his colleagues hadn't been given enough time to debate the judge's merits. Sessions said he expects that more than the 29 cloture-opposing senators would vote against Judge Hamilton once the final vote takes place.

The Senate returns Thursday morning, and at 2 p.m. will have only 30 minutes of debate on Judge Hamilton's nomination before proceeding to the final vote.

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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.