This column originally appeared in The Examiner on November 13, 2009.
On Nov. 10, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid acted to bring to the Senate floor the nomination of Judge David Hamilton to be a federal appeals judge. Presidents have a constitutional right to nominate judges.
But Judge Hamilton is one of those extraordinary circumstances where the U.S. Senate should exercise its right to reject a nominee. And many citizens across America are urging senators to do exactly that, when the Senate will reportedly act on the nomination on Nov. 17.
David Hamilton was the first person nominated for a judgeship after President Obama took office. On Mar. 17, President Obama nominated Hamilton, who is currently a federal district judge in Indiana, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which encompasses several Midwestern states.
The main problem many senators have with Judge Hamilton is his controversial decisions. Hamilton ignored a felony conviction on a man's record when being prosecuted for his third felony drug crime to avoid imposing a life sentence, for which Hamilton was unanimously reversed on appeal.
Hamilton also struck down a law requiring convicted sex criminals from reporting information to police to track their whereabouts. He also petitioned the White House for clemency for a police officer who produced child pornography.
He has also shown surprising hostility to people of Christian faith. He ruled that any prayers uttered in the Indiana statehouse that invoke the name of Jesus Christ are unconstitutional and cannot be permitted.
Nor can anyone offer a prayer that is "sectarian" or "pervasively Christian." Oddly, although prayers mentioning Jesus are somehow a threat to the republic, Judge Hamilton said that it's okay to offer prayers to Allah.
This level of hostility to Christians is shocking. For example, he ruled that an Apr. 29, 2005, prayer offered by a Christian was unconstitutional because it was not inclusive enough. Yet that prayer was addressed to the "God of the whole earth." What's more inclusive than that? Perhaps "God of the whole galaxy?"
Again, the Seventh Circuit reversed Judge Hamilton. But that is the court upon which he would now sit.
Another problem for some senators is Hamilton's past associations. His evident hostility to Christian expressions predictable, given that he was vice president of the Indiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
In addition, he was a fundraiser for ACORN, the now-disgraced organization infamous for dozens of its employees being found or pleading guilty to voting crimes, and recently in the news for employees advising undercover reporters on how to commit tax fraud, housing fraud and smuggle underage girls into this country to be prostitutes.
Judge Hamilton is considered the most extreme judicial nominee thus far from Obama. If confirmed, then it's likely that none of Obama's judicial nominees can be defeated before the 2010 midterm elections, when the makeup of the Senate could change.
At least 24 leaders from a wide variety of conservative organizations, including former Attorney General Edwin Meese, Concerned Women for America president Wendy Wright, Committee for Justice executive director Curt Levey, and Let Freedom Ring President Colin Hanna issued a statement urging the Senate to reject the Hamilton nomination.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL, has also sent a letter to his colleagues expressing his opposition to Hamilton and pointing out that every Republican member of the Judiciary Committee voted against reporting Judge Hamilton favorably.
On the heels of Justice Sonia Sotomayor's appointment, Hamilton shows the growing importance of judges for next year's elections. High profile cases on campaign finance, law enforcement, national security and Second Amendment gun rights are now pending before the Supreme Court. These lower court appointments keep that issue in the news.
By large majorities, Americans prefer judges who confine themselves to the Constitution and laws as written, leaving policy judgments to elected officials accountable to the voters.
The nomination of David Hamilton to the Seventh Circuit marks the next stage in this building drama, as the federal judiciary again becomes an issue in the corridors of power.