President Barack Obama’s first judicial nominee’s record includes judicial decisions which obstructed the enforcement of Indiana’s informed consent law requiring women to be told the risks of abortion.
President Obama on March 17 nominated Judge David Hamilton to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal. He is presently U.S. District Chief Judge for the Southern District of Indiana.
Over his seven years as a district judge, Judge Hamilton ruled against the Indiana informed consent law which required abortionists to inform women about the risks of abortion. The Indiana law was identical to a Pennsylvania statute upheld by the Supreme Court.
Judge Hamilton claimed the law imposed an “undue burden” on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal reversed Judge Hamilton’s decision on appeal, and strongly criticized his decision as an “abuse of discretion.”
Critics have also reported that in 2005 Judge Hamilton ordered the Speaker of the Indiana House to stop the delivery of “sectarian prayers” at the opening of the legislation. The judge ordered that the prayers “should refrain from using Christ’s name or title.”
Concerned Women for America (CWA) President Wendy Wright, who was critical of the nomination, remarked that even the “liberal” American Bar Association had rated Judge Hamilton as “not qualified” for his post.
“Hamilton's decisions reveal a deep disrespect for the Constitution and overinflated view of his own opinion. Senators would be derelict in their duties if they vote to promote him to do further damage to religious freedom and justice,” she argued.
Mario Diaz, Esq., CWA's Policy Director for Legal Issues, charged that Judge Hamilton’s record showed a “dangerous understanding” of the role of a judge and of original intent when enacting the First Amendment.
“Few things could violate Judge Hamilton's supposed 'separation of church and state' more than the state (i.e. Judge Hamilton) telling people they cannot pray in the name of Jesus. It seems Judge Hamilton would use the law as a tool to steer the country in the direction he believes it should go. That is not the role of a judge,” said Diaz.