- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Democrat-led Senate squashed Republican efforts to filibuster Judge David Hamilton Tuesday, clearing the way for confirmation of President Obama’s first circuit court nominee.

In a 70-29 vote, 10 Republicans joined 60 members of the Democratic caucus to clear the procedural hurdle easily and prevent a filibuster after a sharp floor debate between top members of the Senate Judiciary panel over Judge Hamilton’s qualifications and the pace of judicial nominations.

“If partisan, ideological Republicans will filibuster David Hamilton’s nomination, the nomination of a distinguished judge supported by his respected home state Republican senator, they will filibuster anybody,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat.

Several Republicans, citing rulings they say demonstrated Judge Hamilton’s antipathy toward Christianity and anti-abortion legislation, had pursued the 41 votes needed to filibuster the nomination.

Republicans noted Democratic filibusters of President George W. Bush’s nominees, including seven separate votes to block Miguel Estrada from a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003.

The ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, said Judge Hamiltons nomination meets the threshold of “extraordinary circumstances” set by a bipartisan group of senators in 2005 under which a filibuster could be warranted.

In particular, Mr. Sessions 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.

“He’s a good person, I don’t dispute that, but we’re talking about should he be empowered to be an appellate judge, one step below the United States Supreme Court?” Mr. Sessions said. “His view of the role of a judge troubles me.”

According to the Department of Justice, Mr. Obama has, to date, nominated 27 people to the federal courts, and five have been confirmed: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, one appeals court judge and three district court judges.

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