Shortly after the Senate Judiciary Committee announced a hearing date to consider its first judicial nomination on Wednesday, ranking member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) charged that members were not given ample time to prepare questions.
In a letter to committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Specter repeated his concern over the expedited schedule for consideration of several executive nominations. Specter requested the hearing for Indiana District Court Judge David Hamilton, nominated to fill a vacancy on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, be postponed until after the Easter recess.
Members cannot prepare for a hearing for a lifetime appointment to a circuit court in a mere thirteen days, Specter wrote, noting that Hamilton was appointed on March 17 and the committee just received his paperwork on March 23, including 2,000 pages of documents. There are no extraordinary factors counseling expedited review of this nomination; the Seventh Circuit seat is not a judicial emergency and the seat has only been vacant for a few months.
Hamiltons hearing would be the first judicial nomination considered by the Judiciary Committee this year. The panel has moved at a swift pace on other executive nominations, voting out six nominees, and scheduled to take up three more during a meeting on Thursday.
The committee on Thursday is also scheduled to hear from Ronald H. Weich, nominated to serve as assistant attorney general for the Office of Legislative Affairs.
A Democratic Judiciary Committee aide noted that Specter introduced a resolution last year calling for a 30-day timetable on nominees for district courts, courts of appeal and the Supreme Court. The aide maintained that the April 1 hearing will continue as planned.