Senators agreed during an executive business meeting this morning to hold over the nomination vote to the next meeting, which hasn't yet been set.
Committee chair Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., said the delay was because the new ranking Republican committee member, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., had concerns.
"There's a number of troubling rulings ...." Sessions said, referring to Judge Hamilton's decision on opening prayers at the Indiana General Assembly and another prohibiting religious displays in public buildings. "There's some legitimate concerns .... It's time for federal courts to get their heads straight on the proper separation between church and state."
Leahy however said Judge Hamilton, who is President Barack Obama's first judicial nomination, should be praised for support he's drawn from both parties.
"The president's nomination is something that is to be commended, not obstructed and delayed," he said.
If Judge Hamilton gets approval from the Senate committee, he must then face the full Senate for confirmation.
The president had selected him for the appellate post in March, and if confirmed he'd succeed Circuit Judge Kenneth Ripple who took senior status in 2008.