Obama Makes First Judicial Pick

President Barack Obama has made his first judicial nomination:

Announcing his first federal appeals court pick, President Obama today reached for a moderate who already has the bipartisan support of both of his home state's senators. If confirmed, federal Chief District Judge David Hamilton of Indiana will get a seat on the US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

But, is he really a moderate? The radical right objects to him on grounds he has issued pro-choice rulings and was a board member of the Indiana ACLU prior to becoming a federal judge.

The National Review complains: [More...]

Or perhaps Hamilton’s inventive invocation of substantive due process to suppress evidence of a criminal defendant’s possession of cocaine, a ruling that, alas, was unanimously reversed by the Seventh Circuit?

People for the American Way praises the choice:

"David Hamilton is an ideal choice for this seat," said Kathryn Kolbert, president of People for the American Way. "Throughout his career, he has demonstrated a willingness to put principle ahead of politics and bring an open mind to every case."

Law Prof Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy has more and notes this ruling:
In 2008, Judge Hamilton struck down as unconstitutional an amendment to the state law requiring convicted sex offenders to provide the authorities with personal information, including any e-mail addresses or user names. The amendment would also have required the offenders to agree to allow their home computers to be searched at any time and to pay for a program to allow monitoring of their Internet use.

The judge said the amendment cut into the heart of a person’s right to privacy in his home. “The ability of the individual to retreat into his home and therefore to be free from unreasonable intrusion by the government stands at the very core” of constitutional protections against unreasonable searches, he said.

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    PfAW likes him? NR doesn't? Sounds like the (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by steviez314 on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 12:07:34 PM EST
    new definition of moderate to me!

    Ricahrd Lugar likes him (none / 0) (#2)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 12:19:19 PM EST
    Seems like a breeze confirmation to me

    Given our numerical advantage (none / 0) (#3)
    by andgarden on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 12:21:07 PM EST
    it's hard to imagine what nomination wouldn't be.

    Ah (none / 0) (#4)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 12:40:00 PM EST
    It's just a matter if a big stink will be raised or not.  My guess is no, not on this one, since Lugar is behind him.  Oh, the conservative press and pundits will complain and bring out his ACLU and ACORN ties, but that's their job - same as progressives did when even Dem Senators were behind previous Republican nominations.  That's the way of the world.

    I am more concerned (none / 0) (#5)
    by Steve M on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 12:46:00 PM EST
    that Hamilton was rated "not qualified" by the ABA when he was nominated to the District Court.

    Reading the ABA's testimony, though, it seems the only concern was his lack of experience, which ought not to be an issue at this point.  Either he's been a good district court judge for the last 15 years or he hasn't been.

    An ABA "not qualified." (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 01:01:54 PM EST
    not so good.  Will ABA start afresh with the nomination to Court of Appeals?

    i'm sure (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by txpublicdefender on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 01:34:51 PM EST
    I'm sure they will evaluate him anew.  Their opinion that he wasn't qualified to take the district bench 15 years ago doesn't mean anything now that he has served 15 years as a district court judge.  He now has the requisite experience.  That's not an issue anymore.  They will look at his intellect and temperment and talk to lawyers who have appeared in front of him to decide on his qualifications.

    Apparently (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Steve M on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 02:39:15 PM EST
    the ABA has already rated him "well-qualified" with respect to the present nomination.

    ABA Ratings are Crap (none / 0) (#11)
    by daryl herbert on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 01:26:46 PM EST
    They are 100% political.

    The ABA itself should be abolished.


    Obama does not agree with you (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 01:31:29 PM EST

    The American Bar Association announced today that the Obama Administration has requested that the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary resume its historical role in evaluating the professional qualifications of potential federal judicial nominees on a pre-nomination basis.

    Hm (none / 0) (#15)
    by Steve M on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 01:57:55 PM EST
    I suppose we could continue the Bush Administration practice of having the Federalist Society rate nominees instead.  I'm not sure why the Obama folks wouldn't like that option.

    I'm sure they Federalist Society (none / 0) (#16)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 01:59:34 PM EST
    will broadcast its opinion.  Hope Obama doesn't listen though.

    Abolish the ABA? (none / 0) (#17)
    by eric on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 02:27:22 PM EST
    You do know that it is a non-governmental professional association, don't you?  It is a lawyer club.

    It's not just a club (1.00 / 0) (#22)
    by daryl herbert on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 10:45:15 PM EST
    it performs quasi-governmental functions, such as approving law schools.

    What's your sense (none / 0) (#6)
    by joanneleon on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 01:01:10 PM EST
    Jeralyn?  Is it a good sign?  Bad sign?  

    Does the 7th circuit include Indiana?

    Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin (none / 0) (#23)
    by Ben Masel on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 01:55:20 AM EST
    I have a friend who worked for him (none / 0) (#8)
    by progrocks on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 01:03:30 PM EST
    and likes him a lot, and my friend is left of any person on this site

    Judge Hamilton's (none / 0) (#9)
    by KeysDan on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 01:05:38 PM EST
    ruling that the Indiana legislature was prohibited from starting its sessions with overtly Christian prayers (overturned on appeal for lack of ACLU's standing) will surely rile the right-wing.  But the judge seems to have good backers.

    the best part is, (none / 0) (#10)
    by cpinva on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 01:18:26 PM EST
    being from indiana, he won't have to move far to take a seat in chicago! though, i suppose it depends on what part of indiana he's from.

    anyone that groups on both the left and right dislike is my kind of judge! it means he's doing something right.

    I tend to disagree with the notion that judges who makes both sides unhappy must be doing something right.  As for this individual, I don't see any evidence that he is making groups on the left unhappy; just groups on the right.  That's fine with me.

    A moderate in Indiana (none / 0) (#19)
    by Cream City on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 04:17:23 PM EST
    even today, according to my Hoosier-born spouse with much family still there, is a sign of wisdom and tolerance.  When we get down to the middle of the state, past Indianapolis, I'm always amazed to still see huge Confederate flags flying in front of homes, businesses, stores, etc. . . .    

    Bring Em On (none / 0) (#20)
    by squeaky on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 04:22:54 PM EST
    It is going to take quite a lot of appointments to revers the BushCo stuffing the courts with wingnuts.

    A good start, imo.

    I don't know about (none / 0) (#21)
    by JamesTX on Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 04:38:53 PM EST
    how he looks from a professional legal perspective, but to layfolk like me, anyone who is willing to question the constitutionality of unchecked sex offender hysteria and to recognize that constitutional rights apply to sex offenders is a step in the left direction.

    Conservatives value the sex offender madness because it is an area where they can muster bipartisan support for trashing individual rights. Since abolishment of the first few amendments is their ultimate goal for all criminal justice policy, sex offender hysteria is sort of laboratory prototype for how they want everything to go. It is their shining legacy -- the model for how they want social control to work. Any jurist who sees the problem and is willing to apply limits to state power in that area shows more capacity for moral reasoning than most sitting judges, not to mention courage.