This vote was on confirming David F. Hamilton, nominated by President Obama to serve as a judge on the 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals.
Hamilton was Obama’s first judge to be nominated for an appeals court and had been held up for months by Republicans. Republicans threatened to filibuster Hamilton’s nomination for months, but lawmakers were successful in closing off debate on his nomination (see vote 349) and proceeding to this final vote.
Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the Senate’s action is long overdue and noted that Republicans have filibustered Hamilton’s nomination for nearly six months.
“In the days since that bipartisan majority of 70 Senators voted to bring to an end the debate on the Hamilton nomination, and in the more than 30 hours of possible debate time since then, Republican Senators have devoted barely one hour to the Hamilton nomination. Only four Republican Senators have spoken at all and that includes the Senator from Alabama who repeated the claims he had made five times to the Senate since September 17,” Leahy said. He also noted that before nominating Hamilton to the bench, Obama consulted with his home state senators – one a Democrat, one a Republican.
Republicans brushed off criticism of their filibuster, stating that this nominee was particularly worrisome and deserved the scrutiny he has received. Republicans criticized Hamilton for his work for the American Civil Liberties Union and for court decisions he made involving prayer and abortion.
“These are just a few of the problematic cases in Judge Hamilton's record. To date, the Seventh Circuit has been able to reverse these errors, but if he is elevated, only the Supreme Court will be able to reverse most of his errors. I am afraid the Supreme Court might not hear some of them. This body should elevate those judges who have performed admirably during lower court service, not those who have performed poorly,” said Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
By a vote of 59-39, Hamilton was confirmed. Every Democrat present voted yes. All but one Republican present voted no. The end result is that David F. Hamilton was confirmed to be a judge for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.