Continued from page 1

Republicans said they’ve held hearings for 74 percent of Mr. Obama’s judicial nominees, compared with 44 percent of Mr. Bush’s at the same point; have passed 56 percent of Mr. Obama’s nominees out of committee, compared with 28 percent for Mr. Bush at this time; and have given Mr. Obama’s circuit court nominees hearings an average of 53 days after nomination 123 days less fewer than Democrats allowed for Mr. Bush in his first two years.

Conservatives were split in 2005 on whether Republicans should employ the nuclear option and remain split today on whether to use the Democrats’ own filibuster weapon against them.

Mr. Sessions said Judge Hamilton’s nomination meets the threshold of “extraordinary circumstances” set by the Gang of 14, under which a filibuster could be warranted. In particular, he cited a case in which the nominee ruled against the mention of “Jesus Christ” in prayers before the Indiana state legislature but said prayers to “Allah” would pass muster because they were nonsectarian.

Mr. Sessions and other critics of Judge Hamilton also pointed to his blocking of the state’s “informed consent” abortion law.

But Judge Hamilton has the support of at least one Republican senator, moderate Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the judge’s home state, who said in a floor speech that he had known the judge and his family for decades.

“I believe our confirmation decisions should not be based on partisan considerations, much less on how we hope or predict a given judicial nominee will rule on particular issues of public moment or controversy,” Mr. Lugar said.

Twenty-four conservative activists signed a memo saying Judge Hamilton’s record makes him a good candidate for a filibuster, but others such as Manuel Miranda, chairman of the Third Branch Conference and a former top Republican Senate staffer on the judge issue, say Republicans lose the high ground if they embrace filibusters.

Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice and one of those who signed the letter, drew a distinction between what Democrats did and what Republicans are contemplating.

He said Senate Republicans should launch a “short-term filibuster” designed to prolong debate on Judge Hamilton in contrast to Democrats’ use of the measure during Mr. Bush’s presidency, when several nominees were blocked indefinitely.

“It’s hard to actually stop nominees when you only have 40 Republicans, but that’s not necessarily the goal here,” he said. He said the goal instead is “to make sure that there’s thorough enough scrutiny of the more controversial nominees so that Obama feels there’s a cost to nominating radicals.”