Senate Democrats beat back a GOP filibuster of the nomination of David Hamilton to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, voting 70-29 to begin debate on the federal court appointee.
The bipartisan vote came after Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pleaded with Republicans to allow nominations to go forward without an extended debate. We have lots of things to do here in this body, and its really unfortunate we have to file cloture on a judge, Reid said in a floor statement. Judge Hamiltons far from the first victim of this partisan strategy to go slow and to stall the Senate.
Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) criticized the partisan, narrow, ideological tactics that Senate Republicans have been engaging in for decades as they try to pack the courts with ultraconservative judges.
Republicans have criticized Hamiltons past rulings on abortion rights and prayer. In a floor statement Tuesday, Judiciary ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said both issues present extraordinary circumstances for a Senate filibuster. Sessions vowed Monday to filibuster Hamiltons lifetime appointment to the federal bench.
Even so, a handful GOP Senators sided with Democrats to move forward on consideration of the nomination, including fellow Judiciary Committee member John Cornyn (Texas). Hamilton, an Indiana native, also had the backing of home-state Sen. Dick Lugar (R).
Hamilton, the nephew of former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), is expected to be confirmed by the Senate as soon as this week.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.