Religion in Society

Good News! Judge Hamilton OK'ed Despite Religious-Right Effort

| by AUSCS

The U.S. Senate did the right thing today by confirming David Hamilton to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The action came despite Religious Right-led demands that the Senate not even hold a vote on Hamilton. The effort failed, and Hamilton was confirmed by a 59-39 vote.

“The Religious Right tried to keep a qualified judge off the appeals court, and two words describe the result: epic fail,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United.

Lynn added, “During the presidency of George W. Bush, Religious Right groups complained when judicial nominees did not receive prompt votes in the Senate – yet they tried to do the same thing to Judge Hamilton. The rank hypocrisy of these groups is breathtaking, and I’m glad their tactics didn’t work.”

Hamilton, who was nominated by President Barack Obama in March, came under attack by Religious Right groups for an opinion he issued as a lower court judge striking down sectarian invocations in the Indiana House of Representatives. Other organizations attacked him over an abortion-related ruling he issued.

Several Religious Right groups, including the American Center for Law and Justice, the Family Research Council, the Christian Coalition and Concerned Women for America, mobilized to block a vote on Hamilton. They issued bulletins to their supporters and demanded that the Senate turn back his nomination.

On Nov. 10, two dozen far-right groups and individuals issued a joint statement labeling Hamilton “unqualified” and asserting that his rulings “reflect his bias toward extreme leftist ideology” and saying that he has expressed a “bizarre hostility to religious speech.”

AU countered that these attacks were wild distortions of the facts. Hamilton, AU noted, is clearly qualified for the slot. He is a graduate of Yale Law School and a Fulbright Scholar and served on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana for 15 years.

“Religious Right groups had no argument against Hamilton except that they disagreed with some of his rulings,” Lynn said. “These groups seek veto power over appointments to the federal judiciary, and the Senate was right to reject their churlish demands.”

On Nov. 16, Americans United sent letters to every senator, debunking Religious Right attacks on the nominee and urging a vote to confirm him. AU also issued an alert to its members, asking them to contact their senators and urge a vote for confirmation.

Read about the opposition to Hamilton at OpposingViews: Senate Must Reject "No to Jesus, Yes to Allah" Judge Hamilton