Q & A: Judge Hamilton

An absurd slander directed at Judge David Hamilton and eagerly believed by the usual suspects.

Q. Is there are any lie too outrageous for Newt Gingrich to tell, or too blatant for wingnuts to believe and repeat?

A. No.

Any other questions?

Ah, Mr. Benen? Yes, this the same Judge Hamilton whose appointment led Sen. Inhofe to announce a filibuster against a judicial nomination, an action Sen. Inhofe had previously denounced as a violation of a Senator’s oath to uphold the Constitution.

If there are no further questions, class is dismissed.


A reader objects:


Hold on one second.

“The Arabic word “Allah” is used for “God” in Arabic translations of Jewish and Christian scriptures. If those offering prayers in the Indiana House of Representatives choose to use the Arabic Allah, the Spanish Dios, the German Gott, the French Dieu, the Swedish Gud, the Greek Theos, the Hebrew Elohim, the Italian Dio, or any other language’s terms in addressing the God who is the focus of the non-sectarian prayers contemplated in Marsh v. Chambers, the court sees little risk that the choice of language would advance a particular religion or disparage others.

If and when the prayer practices in the Indiana House of Representatives ever seem to be advancing Islam, an appropriate party can bring the problem to the attention of this or another court.”

– Hinrichs v. Bosma

Hamilton did say it would be OK to pray to God in the name of Allah. If somebody were to offer a ceremonial deist prayer in Arabic that would be one thing (nothing about the Prophet, nothing about the Book, just Allah and helping old people cross the street) I guess that would be fine, but if the prayer is in English, with “the choice of language” only being exercised with the word for the Great Watchmaker, that is a little more complicated. In the English language, the Arabic word for God is widely used as the name for the Islamic version or understanding of God and can only be understood thus as “advancing Islam.” This is not only an issue of insufficient multi-culturalism on the part of English-speakers. Islamic clerics and Muslim intellectuals routinely assert a special connection between Arabic and Islam.,


So it appears to be literally true that the ruling said that it was OK to say ‘Allah” but not “Jesus.” Of course it’s absurd to say that Judge Hamilton ruled that Islam, but not Christianity, could be preached to a legislature, but when Gringrich said that the ruling held that “saying the words Jesus Christ in a prayer is a sign of inappropriate behavior, but saying Allah would be OK,” what he said was not false. A distortion, yes. But not a lie. I stand corrected.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com