Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Obama Picks Author of Indiana Legislative Prayer Decision For 7th Circuit Vacancy

In his first judicial nomination, President Barack Obama yesterday selected Indiana federal district judge David Hamilton for a seat on the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. (White House press release.) Hamilton was the author of two related 2005 opinions holding that the Indiana House of Representatives, in opening its sessions with sectarian prayer, violated the Establishment Clause. (See prior postings 1, 2.) Ultimately the 7th Circuit dismissed the case on standing grounds. (See prior posting.) Judge Hamilton, whose nomination must be confirmed by the Senate, was supported by both Indiana senators, Democrat Evan Bayh and Republican Richard Lugar. Reporting on the nomination, the AP says that the American Bar Association has resumed its historical role in evaluating judicial nominees-- giving Hamilton a "well qualified" rating. The Bush administration did not consult the ABA on its judicial picks.