David Hamilton (judge)

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David Hamilton
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Incumbent
Assumed office
November 23, 2009
Appointed by Barack Obama
Preceded by Kenneth Ripple
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
In office
January 1, 2008 – November 23, 2009
Preceded by Larry McKinney
Succeeded by Richard Young
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
In office
October 11, 1994 – November 23, 2009
Appointed by Bill Clinton
Preceded by Samuel Dillin
Succeeded by Tanya Pratt
Personal details
Born July 2, 1957 (Age 56)
Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.
Alma mater Haverford College
Yale University

David Frank Hamilton (born 1957) is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He was previously the chief judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. On March 17, 2009, he became President Barack Obama's first judicial nominee when he was named for a seat on the Seventh Circuit.[1][2] He was confirmed by the Senate on November 19, 2009, in a 59-to-39 vote.[3]

Early life, education, and career[edit]

Born in Bloomington, Indiana, Hamilton grew up in southern Indiana and earned a bachelor's degree from Haverford College in 1979, followed by a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1983.[4][5] He also performed graduate work as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Tübingen in Germany.[6]

Hamilton worked from 1983 until 1984 as a law clerk for Judge Richard Cudahy on the Seventh Circuit.[4] He then entered private practice in Indianapolis until 1989 as an associate at the law firm of Barnes & Thornburg. He served as legal counsel to Indiana Governor Evan Bayh from 1989 until 1991.[4] Hamilton returned to Barnes & Thornburg in Indianapolis, working as a partner from 1991 until becoming a federal judge in 1994.[6] During his time in private practice, Hamilton frequently did pro bono work for the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, where he served briefly as a board member and vice president for litigation.[7]

Federal judicial service[edit]

President Clinton nominated Hamilton to be a judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on June 8, 1994. The Senate confirmed Hamilton in a voice vote on October 7, 1994.[4] In 2008, Hamilton became the chief judge of the Southern District of Indiana.[4]

A number of cases Hamilton decided as a district court judge drew media attention. In American Amusement Mach. Ass'n v. Cottey,[8] Hamilton held that the First Amendment did not prevent the city of Indianapolis from requiring parental consent for children to have access to video games containing explicit sexual content or extreme violence. This ruling was overturned by the Seventh Circuit.[9]

Hamilton drew headlines in 2005 for ruling that the Indiana state legislature violated the Establishment Clause when it began sessions with Christian prayers imploring conversion to Christianity or representing Christianity as the only true faith. He held that prayers invoking Jesus Christ or using terms like savior were sectarian, but names for God in other languages were permissible, absent evidence that those words were used in order to advance or disparage a particular religion.[10] The ruling was overturned by the Seventh Circuit on the ground that the taxpayer plaintiffs lacked standing.[11]

On March 17, 2009, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Hamilton to a vacancy on the Seventh Circuit that was created by the September 2008 transition to senior status by Judge Kenneth Ripple.[12] Obama formally nominated Hamilton later that day. On November 17, 2009, the Senate voted 70-29 to end the Republican filibuster of the nomination, and the Senate approved Hamilton's nomination in a 59-39 vote two days later.

Family[edit]

Hamilton's brother, John Hamilton, is married to Dawn Johnsen, whose nomination to serve as assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel in the United States Department of Justice was blocked by the U.S. Congress.[13] His father, Richard "Dick" Hamilton is a retired United Methodist minister who served the North United Methodist Church in Indianapolis for many years. Hamilton is a nephew of former Congressman Lee H. Hamilton.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ President Obama Announces David Hamilton for the United States 7th Circuit Court of Appeals The White House, March 17, 2009
  2. ^ Neil A. Lewis, Moderate Is Said to Be Pick for Court The New York Times, March 17, 2009
  3. ^ http://judiciary.senate.gov/nominations/111thCongress.cfm
  4. ^ a b c d e David Hamilton at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  5. ^ Chief Judge David F. Hamilton United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana
  6. ^ a b [1]
  7. ^ http://legaltimes.typepad.com/blt/2009/03/obamas-circuit-nominee-mixed-corporate-civil-liberties-work.html
  8. ^ American Amusement Mach. Ass'n v. Cottey, 115 F. Supp. 2d 943 (S.D. Ind. 2000).
  9. ^ American Amusement Machine Association v. Kendrick, 244 F.3d 572 (7th Cir. 2001).
  10. ^ [2] Hinrichs v. Bosma, 400 F.Supp.2d 1103 (S.D.Ind.2005), Entry on Post Judgment Motion at 15 (Dec. 28, 2005)
  11. ^ Hinrichs v. Speaker of the House of Representatives, 506 F.3rd 584 (7th Cir. 2007)
  12. ^ [3]
  13. ^ [4]

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Samuel Dillin
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
1994–2009
Succeeded by
Tanya Pratt
Preceded by
Larry McKinney
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
2008–2009
Succeeded by
Richard Young
Preceded by
Kenneth Ripple
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
2009–present
Incumbent