President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced his first nomination to the federal bench, setting up a potentially divisive political fight on an issue that has proven to tie the Senate in knots over the past 25 years.
Even before the official White House announcement this morning of Obama’s selection of U.S. District Judge David Hamilton to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, liberal and conservative groups were weighing in on the decision. Hamilton currently presides as a judge for the Southern District of Indiana. He was appointed to that post in 1994 by then-President Bill Clinton.
“After the partisan and divisive approach that President [George W.] Bush took with judicial nominations, I appreciate President Obama’s seriousness in making his selection and his constructive engagement with both Sen. [Dick] Lugar [R-Ind.] and Sen. [Evan] Bayh [D-Ind.],— Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement released by his office.
People for the American Way, a liberal group that monitors judicial nominations and constitutional issues, was effusive in its praise of Hamilton. But conservative advocacy groups with a similar focus appeared to be less than pleased. Judicial Confirmation Network, for one, referred to Hamilton as an “extreme liberal.—
Obama described Hamilton as having a “long and impressive record of service— and having a “history of handing down fair and judicious decisions,— according to a White House press release.