Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is following through on a plan to cut off debate on President Barack Obama's most contentious circuit court nominee so far.
Late Tuesday, Reid filed a so-called cloture motion seeking to end debate on the nomination of Judge David Hamilton for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Hamilton, now a district court judge in the Southern District of Indiana, has been awaiting confirmation since March.
Reid needs 60 votes to end debate, and his motion is a sign that he believes he has enough. At least one Republican, Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, has said he supports Hamilton. If the motion succeeds, which could happen as soon as Tuesday, a vote to confirm Hamilton could occur immediately or later in the week.
Democrats have portrayed Hamilton as a moderate, noting the support he’s received from the Indiana legal community and his well-qualified rating from the American Bar Association. He has drawn criticism from religious conservatives for his rulings on abortion and in an establishment clause case about prayer in Indiana’s legislature.
Obama’s first circuit court nominee, Hamilton also did pro bono work for the Indiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1980s, and he served as chief counsel to Indiana’s then-Gov. Evan Bayh, now a Democratic senator.
The vote will be a measure of how much Republicans plan to resist Obama’s other judicial nominees. The two Obama circuit nominees who have received votes were confirmed 94-3 and 72-16 — in the latter case, with GOP senators splitting 16-16.