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Federal judge nominee: Prior work with anti-religion group won't effect job

WASHINGTON D.C. (WTAQ) - Wisconsin federal judge nominee James Peterson ran into a little turbulence Wednesday during his U.S. Senate confirmation hearing.  

The Madison lawyer told the judiciary panel that his rulings would not be influenced by his previous work for the Freedom from Religion Foundation.  

President Obama appointed Peterson two months ago to replace the late John Shabaz in a district that covers the western half of Wisconsin.  

Iowa Democrat Charles Grassley questioned Peterson's previous comment that a display of the Ten Commandments on government property cast non-believers as, "outsiders to the political community."  

Peterson responded that he has handled First Amendment issues from clients with a variety of viewpoints -- and it was an honor to do so.  

Peterson was chosen by a selection panel formed by Wisconsin's two U.S. senators, Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson. Both praised Peterson's work and asked for a quick confirmation because the judgeship has been vacant for several years.  

It's been open since 2009 because Obama nominated former State Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler four times -- and Republicans on Capitol Hill kept casting him aside after Butler lost an election for the state's highest court in 2008.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)