• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Judge David Hamilton's Record

    Today, the Senate may vote to limit debate on the nomination of Judge David Hamilton to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, a significant federal court which covers Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, and whose opinions are more often than not the final word in cases. By limiting debate, Senators will barely have time to scratch the surface of Hamilton’s record of radicalism before considering whether to confirm him for this important, lifetime position.

    Judge Hamilton, currently a federal trial court judge in Indiana, has a long career of liberal political and judicial activism, though the media has touted him as a “moderate.” His political background involves fundraising for ACORN and serving as vice president for litigation and a board member for Indiana’s ACLU branch. His rulings as a district judge reveal an inability to part with the extreme political leanings that are characteristic of these two organizations.

    For example, the very court to which Hamilton is nominated overturned a series of his rulings that blocked enforcement of an Indiana law requiring informed consent for abortions. The language in the 7th Circuit’s majority’s opinion laments Hamilton’s blithe disregard for the rule of law: “No court anywhere in the country (other than one district judge in Indiana) has held any similar law invalid in the years since Casey.” That “one district judge in Indiana” refers to Hamilton himself.

    This isn’t the only time that the appellate court was forced to correct Hamilton’s activism. In 2007, the appeals court overturned a case in which Hamilton ruled that it was a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause for the Indiana House of Representatives to invoke the name of Jesus Christ during prayer, yet it does not violate the Constitution to invoke the name of Allah. It doesn’t take a First Amendment scholar to see the illogic behind this reasoning. The 7th Circuit also overturned his decision forbidding a Rabbi from displaying a Menorah as part of the Indianapolis Municipal Building’s holiday display.

    The 7th Circuit’s need to rebuke Hamilton expands far beyond religious liberty cases. They overturned a ruling in which Hamilton invoked the doctrine of “substantive due process” to suppress evidence of a criminal defendant’s possession of marijuana. “Substantive due process” is known as the “judicial wildcard,” which activist judges use to insert just about any policy preference he or she chooses into the law. So much for a “moderate” pick.

    This is just one of many criminal law cases where Hamilton has displayed a tendency to be soft on crime. In fact, lawyers reported in the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary that Hamilton is one of the most lenient judges in his district in criminal cases. A prime example of this is a 2007 case in which Hamilton requested clemency for a 32-year old police officer who pled guilty to two counts of producing child pornography after videotaping his “consensual” sexual activities with two teenagers.

    When the Hamilton nomination was announced in March, a senior official of the Obama administration declared that the nomination of Hamilton should serve as “a kind of signal” about the type of nominees the president will choose. If that is so, those of us who believe the judiciary should be a bulwark of unbiased justice ought to be worried. Senators who believe likewise should demand sufficient time to review and debate Hamilton’s activist record.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Judge David Hamilton's Record

    1. JudyinNC says:

      it just never ends with the admin….

    2. PJ illinois says:

      Politics as usual. Anything with this administration MUST be rushed so there will be little time for the public to see the truth. This is wrong, it's underhanded and it should be illegal.


      Follow that as intended by our founding fathers and we wouldn't have the problems we have today!

    3. Freedom of Speech, T says:

      Poor Indiana.

      But, Illinios and Wisconson? You good citizens need to take your state back. Outside of the Left Coast and the North Eastern Coast Block, this is the "main" area dominated by liberal elitists.

      I feel sorry for the conservatives in those states, but only you can change it. Meanwhile, no one should be surprised at this nomination – um, um, um.

    4. M.D. snohomish wa. says:

      hope and change? more like hopeless change

    5. Pingback: This Hamilton Will Never be Compared to the Author of the Federalist Papers - The Republican Lawyer Blog

    6. Bobbie Jay says:

      I can't believe it. I Just can't believe it.

      Yes, I can. I just don't want to…

    7. Pingback: PA Pundits - International

    8. Pingback: Gavel Grab » Wednesday Media Summary

    9. Pingback: Senate Confirmation VOTE THURSDAY; As in Tomorrow - susananne’s Diary - RedState

    10. Rick, Northwest Ind says:

      Another case of this administration cramming it's liberal, socialist agenda down the throats of the passive general public — ENOUGH ALREADY!!!

    11. Mark Linham says:

      It is NOT socialism to aggressively defend [substantive] due process in "criminal" cases, especially cases involving consensual crimes, such as marijuana possession! This IS upholding the law! If I have the right to (my) life, then it is none of the government's damn business if I want to smoke marijuana or not. If on the other hand, I do not have the right to life, and thus must submit to government regulations on what I may do with my own body, then per the constitutional limitations on what the police may do even when pursuing criminal cases, there should at least be full requirements of adherence to due process in force to limit what the police may do when surveilling, searching, or investigating me. This is a bedrock Constitutional principle named in Amendment Four of the Bill of Rights. Nothing could be more pro-American than this basic idea, which not incidentally happens also to be the law of the land.

      By the very same token "informed consent" abortion laws violate free access to abortion and thus violate the same principle of self-determination – in this case, for young women – that I named earlier as well.

      As for the case involving the police officer and the sex tapes, teenagers have sex all the time, and are more than biologically capable of legitimately consenting to it. It is idiotic to have, or to enforce, statutes against this.

      I think it is inconsistent to ban Jesus Christ from the floor of a state legislature, while not also banning Allah. That IS inconsistent and unfair. This (legitimate) criticism notwithstanding, Judge Hamilton should be identified as essentially a pro-freedom judge, and not a leftist or socialist at all.

      Please, therefore, advocate FOR the confirmation of Judge David Hamilton.


    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.