Obama's Judge Pick: Moderate or Liberal?

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President Obama's first pick to fill a vacant seat in a federal appeals court could draw criticism over his more liberal rulings in the past.

Judge David Hamilton has been described overall as a moderate, but some of his decisions on issues like abortion and the separation of church and state have already sparked concern among conservatives.

Click play for more insight on Obama's judicial pick, from CBN News White House Correspondent David Brody.

Hamilton first took the seat as a federal district judge in Indiana under former President Clinton in 1994. Obama is expected to nominate him to the United States 7th Circuit Court of Appeals this week.

"Judge Hamilton has a long and impressive record of service and a history of handing down fair and judicious decisions," Obama said in a statement Tuesday. "He will be a thoughtful and distinguished addition to the 7th Circuit and I am extremely pleased to put him forward to serve the people of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin."

Too Far Left for the Right?

Despite the claim for bipartisan appeal, the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network called the judge an "ultra liberal."

The group points out that Hamilton has raised funds for the voter activist group ACORN and has lead a chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, known for supporting issues like gay marriage, abortion, and comprehensive sex education.

CBN News White House Correspondent David Brody also learned that Hamilton was at the center of a controversial ruling in 2005 when he decided the Indiana House of Representatives could not include the name of Jesus in their opening prayers.

"We're not going to know whether this will turn into a full fledged problem for the Obama administration, but Judge Hamilton's decision in this case triggers a nerve with many conservative and moderate-leaning Evangelicals and Catholics," Brody wrote on his blog The Brody File.

As an Indiana judge, Hamilton also stopped the implementation of an abortion consent law that would require women be given information on abortion risks and alternatives before a procedure.

Strong Support Remains

Outside of these two rulings, Hamilton has shown little to demonstrate his ideals as a trial judge.

Still, he has already garnered some bipartisan support. Former Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh, now a Democratic senator, and Republican Sen. Dick Lugar have both thrown their support behind the judge.

"I enthusiastically support the Senate confirmation of David Hamilton for U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Hamilton has served the Southern District of Indiana with distinction as U.S. District Court Judge," Lugar said.

The White House will continue over the next few weeks to announce candidates to fill the 17 vacancies in the federal appeals courts.

The majority of the seats being filled were left vacant by judges appointed under Republican presidents.

Sources: CBN News, The New York Times, USA Today, Life News

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