Things are getting sneaky in the Senate these days. Perhaps some think partisan issues require it. Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee very quietly scheduled a vote on Thursday June 4th, to attempt to confirm Judge David Hamilton, known as the “Anti-Jesus Judge” because of his previous rulings involving abortion, and more recently, banning ‘public prayers ending “in Jesus’ Name” ’. It was apparently assumed that this was a good time to do it, since everyone was focused on Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor and might not notice.
Hamilton was appointed United States District Judge for the Southern District of Indiana in 1994 and was named Chief Judge in January of 2008. In his article Steering Clear Of Judicial Fightsin March 2009, Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen referred to Hamilton as “a respected jurist, universally described as a judicial ‘moderate,’ [who will]enjoy the enthusiastic backing of Indiana’s Democratic and Republican senators.”
Just Filling Vacancies or Finding Qualified Appointees
Carl Tobias, in an April 2009 commentary for FindLaw.com entitled The New Postpartisan Selection of Federal Judges: President Obama Displays His Commitment to Ending the Confirmation Wars, feels this appointment is a good thing. “The Chief Executive,” he says, “can substantially influence appointments because the Constitution expressly assigns the President much responsibility for judicial selection.” Not a word about qualifications, just about filling vacancies.
However an editorial entitled “Judge Hamilton’s confirmation to 7th Circuit Court should be stopped” by Douglas Wellman for the News-Sentinel.com on May 11, 2009 does address qualifications. Wellman says David Hamilton’s nomination by President Obama should raise a red flag “for any American who loves his country and believes in constitutional government.”
Red Flag #1 should be enough, in that when Hamilton was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1994, the American Bar Association rated him as “unqualified”. Have they since changed their mind? But there’s more.
Red Flag #2 is that Judge Hamilton used to be a fundraiser for ACORN, an organization fairly synonymous with voter fraud. ACORN remains fraught with scandal, federal funding was cut off to the group, the U.S. Census Bureau has severed its ties to them, and even the White House has blasted its behavior as “unnacceptable.”
Red Flag #3 is that Judge Hamilton is a former leader of the Indiana chapter of the ACLU, and was the litigation director on their board. The ACLU was founded by Roger Baldwin, an avowed communist, who was quoted as saying that he “would stand with Russia against the world,” and “I will turn the United States into a worker state using civil rights as the vehicle.”
Red Flag #4, after 188 years of beginning sessions of the Louisiana legislature with prayer, Judge Hamilton ruled that procedure to be unconstitutional.
Red Flag #5 is that he further ruled similarly for any prayers stating “in the name of Jesus”, writing in his decision “The injunction orders the Speaker…that the prayers should not use Christ’s name or title or any other denominational appeal… If those offering prayers in the Indiana House of Representatives choose to use the Arabic ‘Allah’ …the court sees little risk that the choice of language would advance a particular religion or disparage others.”
So having ruled “Jesus” and “Christ” to be illegal words, prohibited under free speech and banned by the First Amendment, how is it that he can mandate Christian prayers to be illegal in a public forum in a Christian country, while prayers to Allah are legal? If this is his interpretation of the First Amendment, both Republicans and Democrats have reason to question both his qualifications and his ability to read.
It’s only logical that this ruling was questioned, and in 2007 the Indiana Attorney General made legal arguments to appeal it to the 7th Circuit Court, which issued a 2-1 decision overruling Hamilton, and restoring the right to pray “in Jesus name” in Indiana.
Apprehension About Hamilton’s Confirmation
The 7th Circuit Court covers Wisconsin and Illinois, as well as Indiana. And since most cases never reach the Supreme Court, the federal appellate circuit courts frequently provide final rulings on cases affecting life and liberty. For this reason, if Hamilton is appointed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the same circuit court that has repeatedly overruled his activist decisions for years, it appears there is further room for conflict regarding this and other such issues for the good people of these states.
Several members of the Judiciary Committee have urged delaying his confirmation, indicating that with his past aggressively activist record, many feel Hamilton is not a good choice. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) stated “This a complex area of the law, I’ll admit, but it’s time for the federal court to get their heads straight on proper separation of church and state issues.”