The U.S. Senate voted 59-39 to confirm the appointment of U.S. District Judge David Hamilton to the Chicago-based Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The judge has ruled against Indiana’s informed consent law and has also ordered the cessation of “sectarian prayers” in the Indiana House of Representatives.
Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana was the only Republican to vote for the confirmation of Judge Hamilton, who is also from Indiana. According to Reuters, Sen. Lugar said the judge was ‘superbly qualified.”
The Democrat-controlled Senate lifted a Republican procedural roadblock against Judge Hamilton, who was President Obama’s first judicial nominee in 2009.
Federal judges serve for life and have great power in their court decisions. Appeals courts establish binding precedent within their jurisdictions.
As a district 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.
However, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals he will now join reversed Judge Hamilton’s decision on appeal and strongly criticized his ruling as an “abuse of discretion.”
Some critics of Hamilton have objected to his 2005 order to 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.”
Judge Hamilton is the seventh of the president’s 27 district and federal appeals court nominees to be confirmed.