Moderate Is Obama's First Court Nominee

President to pick judge with bipartisan backing for Seventh Circuit
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2009 6:29 AM CDT
Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia, left, and John Paul Stevens, right, at the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals annual dinner in Chicago, Monday, May 19, 2008.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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(Newser) – President Obama will make his first judicial appointment this week, choosing a moderate judge for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, sources tell the New York Times. The selection of David Hamilton, an Indiana judge with bipartisan support, is meant to signal the administration's effort to reduce the political battles that have accompanied recent appointments. "We would like to put the history of the confirmation wars behind us," said a White House official.

Hamilton was appointed to the federal court bench by Bill Clinton in 1994; he is the nephew of Lee Hamilton, the Indiana congressman who co-chaired the 9/11 commission. In his most high-profile case, he ruled that the Indiana legislature could not open its proceedings with overtly Christian prayers—a decision overturned on appeal. Obama is expected to make further appointments soon for the 17 vacancies on the appeals courts, which answer only to the Supreme Court.