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Breaking: Obama Appoints Indiana Judge Who Banned “Christ” from Prayers in the Indiana House

Posted by iusbvision on March 17, 2009

Folks, this is a judge who gets overturned for making outrageous politically motivated rulings.

Washington Times:

President Obama sent the Senate his first judicial nomination Tuesday, announcing that Indiana Judge David Hamilton is his choice for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Hamilton has served as a federal district judge for 14 years and was named chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in January 2008, the White House said.

We have all heard judges gone wild stories; judges who make outrageous and outrageously unconstitutional political rulings form the bench for the purpose of a partisan axe to grind, social engineering, or other personal peccadilloes.

One such judge is Southern District of Indiana federal Judge David Hamilton.

Hamilton ruled, in one of those nutty ACLU lawsuits that attempt to ban Christianity from public discourse, that the word “Christ” could not be used in the prayer that opens the session of the Indiana State House.

Judge Upholds Prayer Limits in Indiana State House

Some in Both Parties Vow to Fight Ruling

By Peter SlevinWashington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 1, 2006; Page A03

CHICAGO, Dec. 31 — In a spirited duel over prayer, members of the Indiana state House are at odds with a federal judge who ruled that the daily invocation appeals too often to Jesus Christ and a Christian god.

The “systematically sectarian” prayers, U.S. District Judge David F. Hamilton concluded, are barred by the Constitution, which forbids the government to show preference for any religious denomination. He ordered the House to avoid mentioning Christ in the formal benedictions.

As the House prepares to open its 2006 session on Wednesday, a number of politicians have vowed to defy Hamilton, whom they accuse of undermining a 188-year Indiana tradition and interfering in legislative branch affairs.

Terry Goodin, a Democrat who rejects Hamilton’s order, is among at least two dozen House members who have asked to give Wednesday’s prayer. He said he would “absolutely” speak Christ’s name if given the chance.

“Really, who do you pray to? If you’re offering up a prayer, you’re praying to a deity. You don’t offer prayers to just an open space,” Goodin said. “I will give the same type of prayer that’s been given for 100 years. I won’t change my words because of someone in the judicial branch who tells me I must.”

Hamilton expects House leaders, including Speaker Brian Bosma (R), who is appealing the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago, to honor the injunction. If they do not, the judge said, he intends “to take appropriate steps to insure compliance.”

…Unlike on some fronts in the culture wars, elected Democrats and Republicans have come together to criticize Hamilton’s ruling.

“I see where religions were forbidden in other countries. In communist countries. In totalitarian countries. I think this smacks of that,” said Rep. B. Patrick Bauer (D), the House minority leader and former speaker. “We need a clarification or we need a correction.”

Apparently Judge Hamilton never took a good constitutional law course (this writer took constitutional law from a sitting federal judge who is also a master historian). Prayer opens the House of Representatives in Washington DC and in the State Houses at the beginning of each day’s session. Since 95% of religious people in the United States are Christians and our law is based off of the Christian Philosophy of John Locke and others it is only reasonable that a majority of prayers will be Christian.

When the Indiana House asked Judge Hamilton to stay the ruling until an appeal could be heard he denied it.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated Judge Hamilton’s ruling:

The 2-1 decision by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is a victory for social conservatives, although the justices avoided dealing directly with whether the prayers violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, as the lower court had ruled.

Instead, the majority ruled that the four Indiana residents who brought the lawsuit lacked standing because they had “not shown that the legislature has extracted from them tax dollars for the establishment and implantation” of a program that supposedly violates the Establishment Clause.

Glen Lavy, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, applauded the ruling. ADF filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking the judges to reinstate the prayer practice

“Those who oppose Christian invocations are essentially saying that the Founders were violating the Constitution as they were writing it,” Lavy said in a statement. “People of all religions have always had an equal opportunity to offer prayer before Indiana legislative sessions, and this ruling ensures that those who offer prayers in the name of Jesus will not lose that opportunity either.”

The lawsuit was brought against the speaker of the state House of Representatives by the Indiana affiliate of the ACLU, which won the initial round in November 2005 when U.S. District Judge David F. Hamilton ruled prayers must be “non-sectarian” and must not mention “Christ’s name or title or any other denominational appeal.” Later, Hamilton clarified the ruling and said it applied to all sectarian prayers, not just those mentioning Christ.

Mathew D. Staver, founder of the religious liberty organization Liberty Counsel, filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking that the prayer practice be left alone:

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision handed down earlier this year is already beginning to close the door on lawsuits that seek to eliminate public acknowledgment of God and religion,” Staver said in a statement. “Mere offense at the mention of God does not give the right to file a lawsuit. … Prayers offered at legislative sessions are permissible acknowledgements of God and do not establish a religion. Legislative prayer predates the First Amendment and was present when our nation was birthed in the delivery room of the Constitutional Convention.

Courts often examine a case using ‘juristiction’ as the first criteria and ‘standing’ as the second. If either of those conditions cannot be met there is no reason to continue the case.  With that said, the Founders crystal clearly never intend for “separation of church & state” to be interpreted in the manner the ACLU wishes. Judge Hamilton’s ruling also took the entire notion of ‘separation of powers’ and tossed it out the window. The very idea that the judicial branch can dictate to a legislature its procedural customs flies in the face of limited constitutional government.


UPDATE – The Washington Post, the day after this article was published, printed an article explaing that some are pointing out how Hamilton is a far left judicial activist who is being falsely portrayed as a moderate.

The Judicial Confirmation Network, a group that supports conservative judicial nominees, painted Hamilton as a liberal whom the Obama administration was attempting to disguise as a moderate. Pointing to what the White House says was Hamilton’s work raising contributions door-to-door for the advocacy group ACORN for one month after college, and his work on the board of the ACLU, the JCN called Hamilton “an ultra-liberal.”

National Review points out that Hamilton was chastised by the 7th Circuit Appeals Court for being the ONLY judge in the country to rule as he has. Abuse of position anyone?…:

It’s far from clear what justifies the article’s characterization of Hamilton as a “moderate” (or, as the article oddly puts it, as “represent[ing] some of his state’s traditionally moderate strain”—how does one represent some of a strain?).  Was it perhaps Hamilton’s service as vice president for litigation, and as a board member, of the Indiana branch of the ACLU?  Or maybe Hamilton’s extraordinary seven-year-long series of rulings obstructing Indiana’s implementation of its law providing for informed consent on abortion?  That obstruction elicited this strong statement (emphasis added) from the Seventh Circuit panel majority that overturned Hamilton:


For seven years Indiana has been prevented from enforcing a statute materially identical to a law held valid by the Supreme Court in Casey, by this court in Karlin, and by the fifth circuit in Barnes. No court anywhere in the country (other than one district judge in Indiana [i.e., Hamilton]) has held any similar law invalid in the years since Casey. Although Salerno does not foreclose all pre-enforcement challenges to abortion laws, it is an abuse of discretion for a district judge to issue a pre-enforcement injunction while the effects of the law (and reasons for those effects) are open to debate.


Or perhaps Hamilton’s inventive invocation of substantive due process to suppress evidence of a criminal defendant’s possession of cocaine marijuana,* a ruling that, alas, was unanimously reversed by the Seventh Circuit?


With “moderates” like Hamilton, imagine what Obama’s “liberal” nominees will look like.

Update II – Ed Morrissey at has a great post on this issue as well. Definately worth the read.

2 Responses to “Breaking: Obama Appoints Indiana Judge Who Banned “Christ” from Prayers in the Indiana House”

  1. […] on February 2, 2010 We had told you about the first judicial radical President Obama appointed Judge Hamilton, who tried to dictate to the Indiana Legislature what kind of prayers could be delivered at the […]

  2. mike swann said

    O told us he was a Marxist when he mentioned retribution of wealth, you all heard or saw Rev Wright, his entire life has been surrounded by Socialists, Marxists, knew he went to Muslim school, father/ step-father were Black Muslims, mother an atheist. All of you knew he lied about his affiliation to ACORN,BillAyres. Michele Obama knew Bernadine Dorn before her marriage to O. You all knew O was part of the Chicago crooks. There are no Sunday school boys in the Chicago mafia. Period. Tony Rezko and Mayor Daley are O’s friends, former co-workers. So, don’t complain. Should have done some free research before falling in love with this egoist, liar. Mike Swann

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