[JURIST] US President Barack Obama [official website] on Tuesday nominated [press release] Judge David Hamilton [official profile] to serve on the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website], thereby moving to fill the first of 15 federal appellate vacancies [DOJ materials]. Hamilton previously served for 14 years as a district judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana [official website] before having been appointed Chief Justice of that court in January 2008. Obama attributed his decision to Hamilton's reputation as a mainstream jurist:
Judge Hamilton has a long and impressive record of service and a history of handing down fair and judicious decisions. He will be a thoughtful and distinguished addition to the Seventh Circuit and I am extremely pleased to put him forward to serve the people of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.The first of Obama's federal judicial nominations has been broadly viewed as the first step in likely expansive civil rights reforms [WH materials]. In addition to the 15 circuit court vacancies, there are 52 vacancies in federal district courts for a total of 67. A number of these vacancies have opened in previously predominantly conservative circuits, including 11 in the Fourth Circuit and .