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Senate confirms controversial judge

  Political and Legal  -   POSTED: 2009/11/20 10:41

The Senate on Thursday confirmed U.S. District Judge David Hamilton for the Chicago-based federal appeals court, approving a nominee targeted by conservatives as a liberal activist.

Hamilton was approved on a 59-39 vote and became the eighth of President Barack Obama's judicial nominees to win confirmation. He is the third confirmed for a U.S. appeals court, which is usually the last stop for federal court cases.

Republican senators — backed by their conservative allies outside Congress — had blocked a vote for five months until Democrats overcame a filibuster last Tuesday with a 70-29 vote.

The failure to stop the confirmation showed that Republicans lack the clout to block Obama's judicial nominees as the president remakes the federal judiciary following eight years of George W. Bush's mostly conservative choices for the bench.

Obama has been much slower than Bush in sending the Senate nominees to fill court vacancies. However, administration officials have said they are concentrating on the number of Senate confirmations. And they expect that number to soon equal the court confirmations in Bush's first year.

Republicans attacked Hamilton's rulings and his work in the distant past for two liberal organizations: the American Civil Liberties Union in Indiana; and as a fundraiser over two months for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, the troubled group that is under fire from Republicans on Capitol Hill.


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